The Kayla Thomas Grant

The Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grant


This grant is given in commemoration of our dear friend and teammate, Kayla Thomas, and will be awarded annually to one or more Rooftop Films alumni filmmakers to help them complete a short film that communicates the power of hope, collaboration, and togetherness to make positive change. Each year, when we award this grant, we are reminded of her—of how she made our lives more beautiful and helped us create too many special moments to count. She made our burdens lighter, and this grant is but a small way in which we can emulate her and do the same for others. As we were creating this grant, we knew we wanted to help new films get made, and—particularly—to support films we thought would make Kayla happy.

Rooftop Films will donate $1,000 towards this filmmaker grant, and any money that we raise from this campaign—up to $5,000—will also go towards it. We will then select and announce the grant winner(s) each winter.

Thank you for your support and helping us remember this talented, kind and lovely young woman.

Donate online or mail a check payable to Rooftop Films, Inc. to:

Rooftop Films, Inc.
232 Third Street, Suite E106
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Rooftop Films Inc. is a 501(c)3 public charity; all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Past Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grant Recipients

2016 Grantees

Cara Cusumano | Shipwrecked (Currently in post-production)
Cara Cusumano’s short film Shipwrecked tells the story of Cornwall, a charming seaside town in England whose beachfront was transformed for decades when a rogue wave capsized a container ship that was transporting 4.8 million pieces of shipwreck-themed Lego pieces. Cara is the Senior Programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival. Prior to Tribeca, she programmed for the Hamptons International Film Festival and has also worked with film organizations including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Brooklyn International Film Festival, IFP, POV, and Chicken & Egg. Her debut film The Bloop screened with Rooftop during the 2016 Summer Series.

Laura Stewart | Welcome (Completed)
Laura Stewart’s quirky and heartwarming animated short film Welcome tells the story of a tiny blob of a man who makes cookies for his neighbor and falls into his oven and through to a parallel dimension. Laura is a director & stop motion animator living in Montreal, Canada. Her films Blobby and 93 both were selected for the Rooftop Films Summer Series. Screened during the 2018 Summer Series.

2017 Grantees

Ryan Gillis and Miguel Jiron | Fowl  (Currently in production)
When the bars close in the Louisiana bayou, a girl stumbles home to find her kitchen overrun by a coven of satanic chickens. Obsessed with becoming human, the coven tries to force the girl into an unholy body-swapping ritual. She doesn’t respond well to being told what to do.

Tess Martin | Orbit (Completed)
Orbit is a 5 minute short film about the relationship between humanity and the sun. Phonotropes (rotating discs which are filmed to bring the animation to life) reveal intimate scenes of our star’s effect on our lives. They let us ponder the life-giving energy that flows through our planet, and make us realize that we are but a blip in the grand scheme of time. Screened during the 2019 Summer Series.

2018 Grantees

Cameron Mullenneaux & Jasmine Luoma | You’re Listening to Delilah (Currently in pre-production)
Guided by the hypotonic buttery voice of the queen of the airwaves, You’re Listening to Delilah is a bizarre and unforgettable journey into the lives of her fervent listeners.

Leah Shore | Puss (Completed)
Samantha desperately wants to get laid, but is finding it to be difficult for some reason. Puss premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and screened during the 2020 Summer Series.

2019 Grantees

Horatio Baltz, Martin & Hector (Currently in production)
A murderous East Los Angeles gangbanger reflects on his violent lifestyle after the untimely death of his beloved pet cat.

Stephen Irwin, Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother (Completed)
Deep in the forest, a hunter encounters a strange creature he cannot kill. Premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Screened with Rooftop Films in 2020 at the Queens Drive-In.

Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Video Visit (Completed)
Each week, scores of people visit the Brooklyn Public Library to see their incarcerated loved ones via a free video call. Video Visit tells the story of two mothers and their sons, and the librarians who negotiate daily to keep the families connected. Screened during the 2020 Summer Series.

2020 Grantees

Ashley Brandon | I Scream, You Scream (Currently in production)
With the help of his family, a Jamaican-born ice-cream man sets out to create the most banger of a beat the ice-cream hip-hop world has ever seen. (pictured, left)

Jessica Bishopp | Puffling (working title) (Currently in production)
On a remote island off the coast of Iceland, teenagers take it upon themselves to counteract the damaging human impact on nature, exchanging night-time parties for nocturnal puffin patrol, in a coming of age story of joy and jeopardy for young adults and pufflings alike.

Thank you to the supporters of the Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grant

Desiree Carver-Thomas
Abigail Disney
Debra Acquavella
Gigi Agius
Ingrid Benedict
Opal Hope Bennett
Nicole Bergman
Kathleen Berry
Jeffrey Bowers
Sarah Brundage
Kyle Brunette
Ecaterina Burton
Emily Cameron
Justin Campbell
David Ciancio
Cara Cusumano
Ilene Danuff
Adam D’Arpino
Nichole Davis
Jerome DeHey
Gregory DeLaurier
Danielle DiGiacomo
Sara Dosa
Nathan Elbogen
Ted Eschweiler
Ella Fleming
Augustine Frizzell
Samantha Garland
Mara Gerstein
Arlene Gilbert
Bobby Gorman
Vanessa Gould
Laura Heberton
Taylor Hom
Kevin Hopper
Tara Kini
Sabrina Kissack
Juli Kobayashi
Dana Krieger
Kara Krupnick
Jeanette Ling
Elias Luna
Megan MacMurray
Reinaldo Marcus Green
Megan Masur
Mila Matveeva
Samir Mehta
Theresa Meyer
Jamie Morgan
Merete Mueller
Molly OBrien
Angela Pablo
Stephanie Palumbo
Estee Pierce
Virginia Reticker
Michael Rodriguez
Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Daniel Rosenfeld
Deborah Rudolph
Enid Ryce
Sara Sampson
Samantha Sartori
Susan Schwartz
Gabriel Sedgwick
Taylor Smiley Wolfe
Shonda Smith
Adrienne Smith
Rhonda Smith
Caitlin Stewart
Leib Sutcher
Joseph Tullio
Seth Unger
Melanie Valencia
Marjorie Wechsler
Taylor Wolfe
Liz Zimiles

Rooftop Films
232 3rd Street, #E106
Brooklyn, NY 11215