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by Alison Joy
August 16th, 2013

If interning at Rooftop has taught me anything, it’s that putting on 47 outdoor shows a summer is hard. The lovely and talented group of people behind this beloved film series works tirelessly through the heat in a cycle of loading, unloading, stacking, unstacking, folding, unfolding… (and repeat.) It’s a well-oiled machine in these here parts. Though this summer presented its fair share of challenges, Rooftop is damn solid at putting on some truly spectacular events.

As someone that lacks any sort of natural grace or poise and has, on occasion, choked on air or tripped over her own feet, I am probably not a natural choice when it comes to working shows. At Tuesday night’s fundraising event I sat amongst the guests trying to rest my aching bones for a second before jumping up to run for more tonic water, restock the cheese plates, or sort through the donation forms. My toe was battered and bleeding from a freak accident with a poorly lit stairwell (my own fault, let’s be honest), I had come from a 9-hour workday, and I was severely under-dressed. None of this mattered of course, because I happened to be sipping free bourbon and sitting on the rooftop of the 57-story W Residences overlooking the Hudson River and all of lower Manhattan.

That’s the thing about Rooftop: you work hard because you love it. You believe in the films you’re showing, the artists who have made them, and the messages behind them. Art, community, and conversation come together to foster some of the most entertaining and engaging experiences I’ve ever had.

There’s almost a magical feeling about being high up on a roof in the greatest city in the world with a group of people you know are absolutely psyched to be there. You find yourself in the midst of incredibly creative people – directors, writers, actors, producers, artists, musicians – and chances are you’ll also get to interact with the cast or crew of whatever film you just enjoyed. Not to mention, your friends think you’re pretty fly when you bring them along and get to say “Yes, hi, we’re on the list.”

One balmy evening at the beginning of August, I came to a Rooftop show with several friends in tow to watch Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12. Fast forward through 1.5 hours of equal parts bawling and cackling, and there we all were in the courtyard of the Can Factory dancing our hearts out until the wee hours of the night with the faces we had seen onscreen. I don’t think I’ll forget that night anytime soon, and I think it epitomizes why everyone at this organization works so hard. Independent movies rock, meeting brilliant people rocks, and free booze rocks. Put it all together and you’ve got a recipe for success.

When I interviewed for this internship, Gen, the Managing Director, said something along the lines of: “We can’t pay you in cash, but we’ll pay you in pizza.” This turned out to be very true, but I I got a lot more out of these past three months than just some free grub. Rooftop has given me countless memories, a flock of new friends, some LinkedIn-worthy social media skills, and a front row seat to a spectacular line-up of films. I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had here and the people I’ve worked with.

Thank you all, I’ll be seeing you!

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About Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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