Rooftop Films Filmmakers Fund Grants are only open to filmmakers whose work has screened previously as part of a Rooftop Films Summer Series event. Unfortunately, if you have not screened a film with Rooftop Films in the past, you are not eligible to apply for our grants. If you would like to submit your film, head to our submission page.

Rooftop Films not only exhibits films from around the world, we also support the filmmakers whose work we have screened to help them to produce new movies through the Rooftop Filmmakers' Fund.

At our annual Summer Series, Rooftop Films sets aside $1 from every ticket sold and every submission fee received and gives it to alumni filmmakers in the form of grants for their film productions. Only filmmakers who have screened a movie at Rooftop Films' festival are eligible for grants. We also grant additional cash courtesy of our sponsor GarboNYC, and service grants courtesy of our sponsors at Eastern Effects , Edgeworx Studios, Brigade Marketing, Technological Cinevideo Services, and Downtown Community Television.

Unlike festivals which give away awards for filmmakers' past work, the Rooftop Filmmakers Fund is an opportunity to help deserving filmmakers make their next movie. We've been screening films since 1997, and every filmmaker who has ever shown a film with Rooftop is eligible for our grants—now over 2,500 artists. Past grantees have included Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child , Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Shaka King’s Newlyweeds, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Benh Zeitlin's and Glory at Sea, Johannes Nyholm’s Las Palmas , Lucy Walker's The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and dozens more. Read more about past grantees here.


+ Applications must be received by 11:59pm on October 28th, 2016.

+ Applicants will be notified no later than December 6th, 2016.

Rooftop Films has nine grants available —six for feature length films and three for short films. In 2015, Rooftop Films will give away over $35,000 in cash grants, including $25,000 in cash grants from GarboNYC that will be awarded to feature filmmakers, as well as equipment and service grants valued at more than $100,000.

The 2015 Rooftop Filmmakers Fund Grantees Are:


Rooftop Films and Garbo NYC Feature Films Grant
Garbo NYC is a transgressive clothing company that was created by stylist Anett Gabriel, who had a desire to pay tribute to working class women and their sacrifices during the westernization of Hungary. As proud supporters of Rooftop Films, Garbo NYC has made $25,000 available in cash grants for one ora two feature-length films to provide funding for key cast and crew.


The 2015 recipients are:


Kitty Green | Casting JonBenet
A sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case, the unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. After twenty years of media speculation and public hysteria that more or less accused her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, of killing their own child, Casting JonBenet presents audiences with a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking that examines the macabre legacy of this tiny starlet. Inciting responses, reflections and even performance from members of the Ramsey’s own Colorado community, the film will examine how this heinous crime and its resulting mythologies have shaped the attitudes and behavior of successive generations of parents and children. Production on the film has already begun, and Green aims to complete the movie by the end of 2016. Rooftop Films screened Green’s short film "The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul” in 2015.


Sebastian Silva | Me Demon


Rooftop Films and Brigade Marketing Festival Publicity Grant
Brigade knows that audiences are constantly evolving, so they stay a step ahead by pushing beyond the basic publicity and marketing model. Their cutting-edge campaigns generate buzz and demand attention by engaging with core consumers on every level. Brigade will offer one feature-length film full publicity services for the film's North American premiere. (Valued at $15,000 in services).


The 2015 recipient is:

The Fits

Anna Rose Holmer | The Fits
Toni, an 11-year-old tomboyish boxer, lands a spot on an after-school drill team in the West End community of Cincinnati. Enamored by the power and confidence of the team, Toni eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. As Toni descends deeper into the girls’ world, the lingering nostalgia for her brother’s guidance fades away. We witness the joy of her first friendships and her discovery of dance. Yet, she grapples with her individual identity amid her newly defined social sphere. At its heart, “The Fits" is a meditation on movement as seen from the perspective of teenage girls, juxtaposing the precise, powerful, and intentional movements of drill with subconscious, spontaneous, and uncontrolled movements of collective hysterics. “The Fits” was developed and produced through the Venice Biennale Cinema College, and had its World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. Rooftop screened Holmer’s feature documentary “Twelve Ways to Sunday” in 2010.

Eastern Effects

Rooftop Films and Eastern Effects Equipment Grant
Eastern Effects is film production rental house based in Brooklyn. Since 1999, Eastern Effects has been providing Lighting & Grip Equipment Rentals for Independent Feature Films, Television Productions, Corporate & Industrial Videos, Student Filmmakers, and Live Broadcast. For this grant, Eastern Effects will award 30 days of lighting and grip equipment to one feature-length film.


The 2015 recipients are:

The Strange Ones

Lauren Wolkstein & Chris Radcliff | The Strange Ones
Mysterious events surround the travels of two brothers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to something more complex, dark, and potentially deadly. Wolkstein and Radcliff said, “We want to create a film where a seemingly simple story gives way to multiple possibilities, and where objective truth is a perpetually elusive thing. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the brothers relationship may not be what we think, and the trip may hold disturbing implications. The characters are of the type that we consistently find intriguing—those who find themselves navigating complicated emotional terrain, who lie as easily as they tell the truth, and keep their secrets hidden.” Wolkstein and Radcliff plan to shoot the film in the summer of 2016. In 2011, Rooftop screened the short film on which the feature is based.


Rooftop Films Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant
Technological Cinevideo Services has been the rental home for world-famous professional motion picture equipment for more than 30 years. For this grant, TCS will award 21 days of high-quality camera and lens equipment for one feature-length film.


The 2015 recipient is:


Khalik Allah | Jamaica
Can the ancestral herbs of Jamaica whose efficacy in healing the body is undeniable, also be the answer to the larger issues that plague the island of Jamaica? Using intimate portraiture and stylistic innovation, Khalik Allah is depicting the undepicted. Using an out-of-sync polyphonic audio track with a uniquely beautiful slow motion video component creates a break in the viewer’s conciseness which invites them to participate in the film in a similar way one would when reading a novel. Allah said, "This film is an herbal and spiritual take on Jamaica told from the inside out. It is an intimate quest of Faith through the mind of Jamaica’s rarest, most remote inhabitants: the Maroons. Throughout the film the question will be raised as to “what’s the answer?” The answer to the problems of poverty, crime and governmental negligence that plague the country.” Production on the film has already begun, with additional shooting continuing into 2016. Rooftop screened Allah’s documentary “Field Niggas" in 2015.


Rooftop Films and Edgeworx Post-Production Grant
Edgeworx Studios is a post-production house based in Manhattan. With a fifteen-year track record, Edgeworx provides full service production and post-production. Their areas of expertise include motion graphic design, animation, VFX, editorial and finishing. For this grant, Edgeworx will provide 1-2 weeks of post-production services to one feature-length film.


The 2015 recipient is:


Anja Marquardt | Wolf
“Wolf” is a fictional feature film about a real-life elite unit of Native American trackers who patrol the Arizona border zone, targeting drug and human trafficking. Rooftop screened Marquardt’s feature film “She’s Lost Control” in 2014.


Rooftop Films / DCTV Equipment and Services Feature and Short Film Grant
DCTV Equipment Rentals is one of the only rental houses that does not require production insurance and is open 7 days a week, striving to make otherwise expensive pro camera, lighting and audio gear accessible. DCTV Workshops provide over 200 hands-on workshops in video production, post-production, producing, and graphic & web design each year, taught by working industry professionals in an intimate and interactive environment. For this grant, DCTV will provide 2-3 weeks of production equipment and workshop enrollment to two filmmakers making short films.


Rooftop Films / DCTV Color Correction Feature Film Grant:

Swarm Season

Sarah J. Christman | Swarm Season
“Bees taught us how to die.” Against the backdrop of social and environmental uprising, a traveler encounters an endangered species in its last gasp. Filmed on the Big Island of Hawaii, ""Swarm Season"" combines observational documentary and speculative fiction to reexamine the relationship between human beings and the natural environment in the past, present, and future. If honeybees—one of the most resilient and cooperative species on the planet—are being pushed to the point of extinction, what kind of future do humans have on earth? Production on the film has already begun, and Christman aims to complete the movie by the end of 2016. Rooftop Films screened Christman's short films ""Dear Bill Gates” in 2006 and ""Broad Channel” in 2010.


Rooftop Films / DCTV Equipment and Services Short Film Grant:

Sloof's Supershop

Ryan Mauskopf | Sloof's Supershop
“Sloof's Supershop” is the beginning of a cartoon series about a big red fuzzy wizard-scientist who, along with his swiss-army robot, runs a fantastical shop where people can buy potions, genies, and everyday time machines. Upstairs, however, in Sloof's amazing laboratory, unbelievable things happen all the time. Rooftop screened Mauskopf’s short films “Professor Soap - Spirit Quest Journey” (2013), "Spacetime Fabric Softener" (2013) and “Positronic” (2015).

Managed Retreat

Nathan Kensinger | Managed Retreat
“Managed Retreat” is a short documentary portrait of three communities in Staten Island inundated by Hurricane Sandy, now purchased by the State government, to be torn down and returned to nature as rising sea levels reclaim New York City’s coastline. Rooftop screened Kensinger’s short film “Covered Tracks” in 2008.

Adrienne Shelly

Rooftop Films and Adrienne Shelly Foundation Short Film Grant For Women
The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated in loving memory to the uniquely gifted actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, whose highly accomplished life was tragically cut short November 1, 2006. ASF supports the artistic achievements of female actors, writers and directors through a series of scholarships and grants, providing recipients with financial support and consultative access to the Foundation's advisory board of actors, directors, producers, composers, law, publicity, academic and trade professionals. Reflecting Adrienne's spirit, generosity, courage and whimsy, its goal is to recognize the tremendous passion and commitment of women artists in creating their own work, and provide them with support and guidance particularly during periods of transition and struggle. For this grant, we will award one $3,000 grant to a female director.


The 2015 recipient is:

Rooftop Filmmakers Fund

Jennifer Reeder, All Small Bodies
In the aftermath of a catastrophe, two young girls are lost in the woods. Abandoned by all adults, the girls’ sense of the world that was and what will be is influenced by treasured artifacts. When harsh weather and a menacing hunch force Z and Bub to abandon their hand built shelter, they must carve out a utopic new world—reclaiming their autonomy and also their childhood. This feminist speculative fiction is a loose variation of Grimms' Hansel and Gretel and presents coming-of-age as a supernatural process. The film will be shot in Germany in April 2016. Rooftop screened Reeder’s short film “A Million Miles Away” in 2015.

Rooftop All Small Bodies

Rooftop Filmmakers' Fund Short Film Grant
We believe that short films do not receive the attention they deserve in the world of film, and that all too often even a festival which prominently includes short films does little for the filmmaker in the long run. For the short film grants, Rooftop Films earmarks one dollar from every regularly-priced ticket sold and every submission fee received for the Filmmakers' Fund. Every year, filmmakers whose movies have screened at Rooftop Films are eligible to apply for grants for their future productions. We believe that instead of giving each filmmaker ten dollars, giving away a few larger sums (up to $3,000) toward specific projects is a better way to help the filmmakers and the independent filmmaking community in general.


The 2015 recipients are:

Beast of Man

Christopher K. Walker & Michael Beach Nichols | Beast of Man
Young men seek salvation and learn to ride bulls at an annual christian camp in western Oklahoma. A verite documentary that promises to be dramatic, compelling, and visually stunning, "Beast of Man" will be an immersion into a world where the summer camp experience for kids as young as six years old blends religion with the most dangerous organized sport in the world. Filming is already complete, and Nichols and Walker aim to complete the movie by April 2016. Rooftop screened Nichols and Walker’s feature documentary “Welcome to Leith” in 2015.

Market Place

Niki Lindroth von Bahr | Market Place
"Market Place" is an animated musical with apocalyptic undertones, shot in analogue stop motion technique with puppets and models. The film is divided into four episodes that respectively take place in a supermarket, a long term hotel, a call center and a hamburger restaurant. All of the settings are located in a modern market place next to a large freeway somewhere in Sweden at night. Rooftop screened Lindroth von Bahr’s short films “Tord and Tord” (2011) and “Bath House” (2015).

Managed Retreat

Nathan Kensinger | Managed Retreat
“Managed Retreat” is a short documentary portrait of three communities in Staten Island inundated by Hurricane Sandy, now purchased by the State government, to be torn down and returned to nature as rising sea levels reclaim New York City’s coastline. Rooftop screened Kensinger’s short film “Covered Tracks” in 2008.


In addition to the above grants, Rooftop Films helped negotiate post-production services at Metropolis Films for:

Kate Plays Christine

Robert Greene | Kate Plays Christine
This nonfiction psychological thriller follows actor Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play the role of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida television host who committed suicide on air in 1974. Christine’s tragic death was the inspiration for Network and the mysteries surrounding her final act haunt Kate and the production. The film will premiere in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Rooftop previously screened Greene’s films “Ye Are the Light of the World” (2003), “Ghost Towns of Arizona” (2006), “Fake it so Real” (2011), and “Actress” (2014).


Rooftop Films Filmmakers Fund Grants are only open to filmmakers whose work has screened previously as part of a Rooftop Films Summer Series event. Unfortunately, if you have not screened a film with Rooftop Films in the past, you are not eligible to apply for our grants. 

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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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