How to Apply | FAQs | Grant-writing Advice | Apply
The Rooftop Films Filmmakers’ Fund Feature Film Grants
Only filmmakers who have screened a movie during the Rooftop Films Summer Series are eligible to apply for our grants.
Applications for the 2020 Filmmakers Fund will open in the Fall.
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. We also grant additional cash grants and service grants courtesy of our sponsors at Eastern Effects, Edgeworx Studios, Red Hook Post, Irving Harvey, Technological Cinevideo Services, and elkind Lighting & Camera. In the fall of 2019 grant cycle we have seven grants for artists making feature films (more than 60 minutes) and Rooftop Films will award nearly $200,000 in cash and service grants to help alumni filmmakers to produce and promote their next short or feature film.
If you would like to apply for a Short Film grant, you are on the wrong page! Click here for information on the Short Film Grants.
FIRST STEP: Let us know you’re interested!
If you are an eligible filmmaker and plan on applying, please RSVP as soon as possible by clicking on this link and filling out a simple form. This way we can gauge how many applicants to expect and will know to look for your application, lest it get lost in some way. Read more about how to apply.
About the Grants
Rooftop Films Water Tower Feature Film Grant
Through a generous sponsor, Rooftop Films has made $30,000 available in cash grants for one or two feature-length films to provide funding for key cast and crew.
Rooftop Films and Eastern Effects Equipment Grant
Eastern Effects will award 30 days of lighting and grip equipment to one feature-length film.
About Eastern Effects: 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.
Rooftop Films Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant
TCS will award 21 consecutive days of high-quality camera and lens equipment for one feature-length film.
About TCS: Technological Cinevideo Services has been the rental home for world-famous professional motion picture equipment for more than 30 years.
Rooftop Films and Edgeworx Post-Production Grant
Edgeworx will provide 1-2 weeks of post-production services to one feature-length film.
About Edgeworx Studios: Edgeworx Studios is a post-production house based in Manhattan. With a sixteen-year track record, Edgeworx provides full service production and post-production. Their areas of expertise include motion graphic design, animation, VFX, editorial and finishing.
Rooftop Films Red Hook Post Sound Mix Grant
Red Hook Post will provide one Rooftop Films alumni with a package of sound mixing services, including use of sound mixing facilities and the services of a professional sound mixer. (Valued at $25,000 in services).
About Red Hook Post: Red Hook Post creatively partners with their clients, offering insight and ideas to better realize the overall creative product. Red Hook Post has a select group of experienced professionals to carry out their mission, and strive to create personal working relationships with clients.
Rooftop Films Elkind Lighting & Camera Documentary Grant
Elkind Lighting and Camera will provide cameras and equipment for a documentary short or feature. (Valued at $5,000)
About Elkind Lighting and Camera: Elkind Lighting and Camera takes pride in putting together the lightest, tightest, and brightest packages around for use locally and worldwide. We also do red camera packages with Leica and Zeiss primes and Canon Zooms.
Rooftop Films Irving Harvey Feature Film Color Correction Grant
Irving Harvey will provide a package of color correction services, including use of color correction facilities and the services of a professional colorist. (Valued at $25,250)
About Irving Harvey: Irving Harvey is a post production and technical solutions company. Their focus is post production on the cutting edge of technology; staying on top of the latest innovations in equipment and software in order to deliver the highest-quality end result possible and fulfill their client’s vision to the best of the state of the art. They offer a wide variety of post production services including color grading, conform, DCP mastering, dailies processing, and offline transcode processing.
How to Apply
- If you plan on applying, please fill out this quick RSVP form, so we know how many applications we might be expecting and we can keep an eye out for your application.
- Complete the online Feature Film Grant Application Form. The form is the same for each of the feature film grants.
- If you are applying with more than one film, fill out a separate application for each film.
- Download budget form for the Rooftop Filmmakers’; Fund Feature Film Grants. Applicants outside the U.S. may need to request the form by emailing email@example.com if the download malfunctions, we are working to fix this issue!
- You are also welcome and encouraged to send footage, rough cuts, fine cuts, etc. in any format. Online links are preferred (password protection is acceptable). Please include a link and password in your application form.
- You cannot edit the application form once you submit. We strongly recommend you fill out a copy of your application in a separate document and save that for reference.
- Rooftop Films has opted into the Documentary Core Application. Fiction and non-fiction films of any genre or category can apply using these application form pages, but to make the application process as convenient as possible for all filmmakers, we have updated our application questions to comply with the Documentary Core Application guidelines. Learn more.
- Applications must be received by 11:59pm on November 4, 2019.
- Applicants will be notified no later than December 31, 2019.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to apply?
Only filmmakers who directed or co-directed a film that has already screened at a Rooftop Films event are eligible to apply. Alumni filmmakers can only apply for a grant if they are director or co-director on the film for which they are applying.
I was the producer or writer on a film that screened at Rooftop. Am I eligible to apply?
No. Only directors who had their work screened are eligible to apply as directors. We appreciate that film is a collaborative medium, and respect the contributions of all the collaborators, but with over 2,500 directors who have now screened at Rooftop Films, we must limit the grant eligibility to that pool. In this way, we can more clearly judge the director’s vision for the new film.
I am Rooftop alumni director and I am the producer but not the director for an upcoming film. Am I eligible to apply?
No. Alumni filmmakers can only apply for films which they are directing or co-directing.
I do not know when my upcoming film will be completed. Can I still apply?
Yes. But we are more likely to award grants to films that have a relatively clear timeline for production.
Can I apply with more than one project?
Yes! You should apply for all of the grants that you are eligible for, as long as you are certain that you can make use of the cash or services should you be awarded the grant. However, please do not apply for a grant if you don’t think you can use the services (for instance, if your film is shot entirely in natural light, don’t apply for the Eastern Effects grant. If you already have completed your shooting, don’t apply for the camera grant from TCS, etc.)
Can I be awarded multiple grants for the same project?
It is theoretically possible but we usually only give one grant per project. If there is one grant you think would be particularly useful, please indicate that in your application in the answer to the question, “How will you make use of our grants?”
Can I apply again with the same film if I didn’t receive funding the previous year, or if I did receive funding?
Yes and yes. Many of the films we have funded were films that had applied in multiple years.
What are my obligations to Rooftop Films if I am awarded a grant?
The answer varies a bit depending on which grant you receive, but for most grants the minimum requirements are:
- You must agree to give Rooftop Films the option of screening your film at a public screening within 12 months of your world premiere and prior to a theatrical release of the film, unless otherwise mutually agreed.
- You must include thanks and acknowledgment to Rooftop Films and any other associated sponsors in the credits of your film and on your film website.
- The filmmaker must produce the film as outlined, to the best of their ability.
When is the next set of deadlines?
In general, the application is open in the fall of each year, with a deadline in late autumn, and grants awarded in the winter. Check back closer to those dates for specific details from year to year. Also, if you are an alumni filmmaker, make sure you are on our filmmakers email list for updates.
Do I have to submit a video sample or still images? If so, what is the best material to submit?
It is not required to submit a video sample, but if you have a video sample or still images, we recommend you submit them. We know there is often a fear of showing incomplete work but usually something concrete and visual is more enticing than a text description. We are accustomed to looking at works-in-progress.
If possible, we recommend you submit three work samples in two or three video links:
- a trailer (2 minutes), to show the emotional and visual spark of the film
- representative scene (5 minutes), to show what the film is like
- a rough cut, to show the entirety of the story and scope of the film
If you do not have any or all of these elements, that’s ok! Many filmmakers have received grants before they shoot or edit. If you do have live footage, please submit it. If you don’t have footage, we recommend submitting a look book or a series of stills or sketches, or something else that visually represents your film.
What kind of films does Rooftop Films fund?
We are open to any genre or type of film, but in choosing our grantees, we are biased toward:
- People who we can be confident will actually produce another movie with these resources.
- People who do not have access to other resources.
- People who use money and materials sparingly and wisely.
- Films that are daring, unique, intelligent, soulful, honest, and brilliant.
- Films with women and people of color in primary production roles.
- Films that are socially responsible. Whether documentaries or fiction, drama or comedy, experimental or animation, we admire films that are thoughtful, well-researched, well-reasoned and that actively seek to change our world for the better.
- We are more likely to fund films for which this grant will have a large impact. That is, we are more likely to fund $3,000 of a $3,000 total budget than $3,000 of a $30,000 total budget. (Though we will provide funds for bigger budget films, too.)
- We are more likely to fund films where there is thought to how the film will be used in the world in coordination with a community engagement campaign and/or ongoing efforts for social justice.
- We are also more likely to fund films that make the most of their resources and community. For instance, we are more likely to fund the salary of a DP who is donating use of his own 16mm camera than we are likely to fund the rental of a 16mm camera from a corporate rental house. We are also more likely to fund the purchase or fabrication of materials that you will be able to use again, instead of a one-time rental.
These are not requirements, just qualities we value. We fund many films that do not fall into those categories, from comedies to experimental films, films with big budgets and small, and films by all types of people. If it’s a moving picture by our alumni and it’s going to be great, we want to support it!
- We need to be convinced that you will make this film as it as presented and in a timely fashion. If you can provide a production schedule and convincing reasons as to why you will adhere to it, that’s great.
- We often fund specific line items in your budget, so the more specific you can be, the better.
- We will fund any element of pre-production, production or post-production.
Grant-writing Questions and Advice:
What is the best way to answer the question “How will you make use of our grants”?
Be specific, and know exactly what each grant provides. In each case, tell us why and how the grant will improve your film.
- The Rooftop Filmmakers Watertower Feature Film Grant is intended to support the fair wages of cast and crew working on the film. We are particularly interested in allowing a film to pay an individual who will make a crucial impact on the film, such as augmenting the cast, or bringing in a vital crew member the production couldn’t otherwise afford. The grant should not be used for equipment, services or overhead. In your application, under “How will you make use of the selected grants,” please make a clear and compelling case for how you will utilize this cash to fulfill the intended purpose of the grant.
- At a minimum, The Eastern Effects Equipment Grant provides their Three-Ton City Lighting Truck Package (vehicle not included) to your film for 30 days. Additionally, any equipment that you require that is not included in this package can be submitted to Eastern Effects, and Eastern Effects will determine which additions and substitutions can be included in the grant package. Any additional items beyond this will have to be paid for a-la-carte at no more than the normal market rate. The package is subject to availability, but the further in advance you know your shooting dates, the more likely it will be that you can the equipment at the time you need. The package must be picked up in Brooklyn, NY, but can be used anywhere.
- The Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant provides 21 consecutive days of high-quality camera and lens equipment for one feature-length film. Read about TCS equipment list here. The package must be picked up in Manhattan, NY, but can be used anywhere. The selected film will receive a full camera, lens and peripherals package. Availability subject to change, but the further in advance you know your shooting dates, the more likely it will be that you can retain any package you choose.
- The Edgeworx Post-Production Grant will provide 1-2 weeks of post services to one feature-length film. Edgeworx areas of expertise include motion graphic design, animation, VFX, editorial and finishing, and you can read more about their work here. Previous grants have done titles and graphics, image cleanup and removals, compositing and special effects. Edgeworx is based in upstate New York, but work can be done remotely.
- Rooftop Films Red Hook Post Sound Mix Feature Film Grant will provide one Rooftop Films alumni with a package of sound mixing services, including use of sound mixing facilities and the services of a professional sound mixer. (Valued at $25,000 in services).
- Rooftop Films Irving Harvey Feature Film Color Correction Grant will provide a package of color correction services, including use of color correction facilities and the services of a professional colorist. The package includes prep, color grading, and delivery of a feature film project, by Irving Harvey, with a base standard package that will be the minimum provided. Delivery is defined as one Master Rec. 709 DPX Sequence, and one viewable Quicktime reference file. Any additional deliverables would be at cost to the filmmaker, with price negotiated with Irving Harvey. The filmmakers must make a request for services at least one month in advance of their session. Irving Harvey will work with the selected filmmaker to fill their needs within the range of the equivalent cost of the package. The package will be confirmed no less than two weeks in advance.
- Rooftop Films Elkind Lighting & Camera Documentary Grant will provide cameras and equipment for a documentary short or feature. (Valued at $5,000). The package will be based on a list of possible kits: BBS Flyer Kit, Litegear Ribbon Light Kit, Westcott Flex 4 Light Kit, Litemat 2L S2 Kit, Joker 800 Kit, Joker 400 Kit, Joker 200 Kit, Arri 4 Light Kit, or the Set Kit/Grip/Miscellaneous Kit.
What’s the best way to answer the question, “Tell us about the film you are making – what is the plot, what will we see on screen?
400-800 words for this section is a good length to aim for. Be literal: this scene, then this scene, then this scene, and then the finale. An outline format works (but do keep it dramatic and emotional).
When writing a narrative, from scene to scene, always think in terms of “so therefore.” For example, don’t write, “Mark rings the doorbell but no one answers. Then Mark walks across the bridge.” Instead, write, “Mark desperately rings the doorbell over and over, bu no one answers. So therefore, feeling alone and dejected, Mark shuffles to the bridge.”
Don’t tell us back story or character history if it isn’t going to be in the movie. So don’t tell us, “Mark has been lonely ever since his parents died when he was 13” unless you have some way of conveying that on screen. Such as: “Mark visits a graveyard, laying flowers on stones marked “Beloved Mother and Father,” the death dates now in the distant past. His head down, he passes a parade without thinking to celebrate and returns to his sparse apartment to check his email: nothing.”
We do not want teasers, cliffhangers, mysteries, open-ended questions, etc. We want to know what happens. The sort of synopsis which takes us right up to the point where the story makes its decisive turns is great for press releases but not right when you’re seeking funding. Although Rooftop’s role in getting this film made may be relatively small, in many ways we are like producers, and we want to know exactly what we’re getting. So tell us point by point what happens in your whole story.
What’s the best way to answer the question, “Tell us about the film you are making — what is your artistic vision, what is the significance of the film?”
This question is pretty open-ended, but here you can tell us about what drew you to the subject matter, what passion you have for it, and why you think other people will care. You can also tell us about the tone and the style of the film. If you would like to reference other films, your own or those of others, that can be helpful. The grant panel will have seen your other work, so saying whether it will be similar or dissimilar to what you’ve previously done can be a useful comparison.
What is the best way to answer the questions about our production and post-production plan, schedule and needs?
Tell us your timeline as specifically as possible. Tell us about your collaborators, briefly. (We don’t need bios, just that an editor is on board, or a DOP, or whatever is crucial). And most importantly, relate your answer to the grants for which you are applying. If you are seeking a cash grant, what will the cash be spent on? If you are seeking an equipment or service grant, how will the grant serve your project specifically?
I am making a fiction film using an improvisational technique, so I can’t provide the story yet – or –– I am making a non-fiction film using an observational technique, so I can’t provide the story yet . . . so how can I best tell you about the film I am making?
If making fiction based on improv, tell us the core story you have in mind, the feeling you’re trying to discover, the idea you’re exploring, or the tone you’re setting. Tell us what you are telling the actors to start them in the process and what you do to take them from scene to scene. How will you build this improvisation? What will you shoot? Where will you be? What problems do you hope to tackle?
Similarly, if making non-fiction, tell us what drew you to this subject. What emotions, ideas, stories? How do you hope to capture it? Through purely observational footage? With or without language? With voice over? With titles? Will it be structured by a plot, or through a series of characters, or by different themes within the subject matter (ex. a section on health care law, then a section on the pharmaceutical industry), or by some over-arching structure (ex. “A day in the life of…”). You may not know exactly, yet, but how are you planning your shoots or approaching your editing process?
Need More Advice?
All filmmakers are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-417-7362. When asking for advice, please focus on specific questions. We can only really advise how to make your application more clear and offer personal non-binding advice on the filmmaking. The piece of advice we most often give is to describe what we will see on screen more clearly. Due to time constraints, we can only provide one round of notes and cannot guarantee feedback in the final week before the deadline. Simple questions are welcome any time!
The grants will be decided by a panel made up of Rooftop Films staff, founders and invited panelists, and may include staff from sponsor organizations. There may be things we would want to see changed in the proposed project or we may want to participate in the production in order to provide funding. If you are not comfortable with our suggestions, there will likely be follow-up questions but no formal second round of applications.
Payments and Reporting
If you are awarded a grant, you will be expected to file one simple progress report and one simple completion report, which we will send to you at the appropriate times. You will need to sign a grant contract before receiving support.
The key provisions are:
- The filmmaker must produce the film as outlined, to the best of their ability.
- The filmmaker must produce the film within 18 months of the grant award.
- Funds and services will not be allocated immediately, but for specific services as needed.
- The filmmaker must allow Rooftop Films the right to screen the film within 12 months of the official world premiere, before theatrical or TV release and preferably before any New York screenings.
Rooftop Films has opted into the Documentary Core Application. Fiction and non-fiction films of any genre or category can apply using these application form pages, but to make the application process as convenient as possible for all filmmakers, we have updated our application questions to comply with the Documentary Core Application guidelines. Learn more.
Good luck! We’re excited to hear about your films, and to help them get made and get screened on the roof.