For Filmmakers


2018 Summer Series submissions will open in September of 2017. Check back for more information.

Submitting to Rooftop Films

At Rooftop we believe that the role of a festival is to help filmmakers bring their work to as large and diverse an audience as possible, not to profit off of their ambition. That is why we keep our submission fees low. Plus, if you submit a work to Rooftop you automatically get 2 free tickets ($30 value) to any one Rooftop Summer Series show, whether or not we are able to screen your film.

Since 1997, Rooftop Films has been committed to providing a venue, an audience, and a community for the wide array of short and feature length films that are underserved by conventional exhibition means. We screen narrative, hybrid and documentary films that are daring and unique, including comedies, dramas, experimental, animation, political films, and found footage. We want films that tell us about where and how you live, with original ideas (regardless of production values). We screen the work of experienced professionals, long-time amateurs and first-time filmmakers alike. We strongly encourage submissions by women, minorities, and people of color.



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, Downtown Community Television, Nice Shoes, and Sound Lounge .

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.

Rooftop Films has ten grants available —seven for feature length films and three for short films. In 2016, Rooftop Films will give away over $30,000 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 2016 Rooftop Filmmakers Fund Grantees Were:

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 or two feature-length films to provide funding for key cast and crew. The 2016 recipients were:

Robert Greene | Bisbee ’16
Bisbee ’17 will follow multiple characters in Bisbee, Arizona as they work to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the controversial Bisbee Deportation, where 1200 striking miners were violently exiled from town. The film will combine observational documentary with musical reenactments, leading up to a centennial dramatization of Bisbee’s “darkest day.”

Kirsten Johnson | Deadpan
Dick Johnson, an 84 year old psychiatrist is simply going about his business, when his car crashes, he gets hit by an avalanche, he has a heart attack, a bookshelf falls on him, and a wave washes him out to sea. But although his spectacular deaths keep happening, nothing keeps him down. Until it does. Stuntmen risk their lives to insure spectacular death after hilarious death as Dick Johnson tries to stay alive until the end of his days. (Pictured, left)

Rooftop Films and Brigade 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).

Joshua Z Weinstein | Menashe
Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.

Rooftop Films and Sound Lounge Sound Mix Feature Film Grant

Sound Lounge is an audio post-production company that provides creative services for TV and radio commercials, feature films, television series, digital campaigns, gaming and other emerging media. Sound Lounge 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, for up to 40 hours of sound mixing and 8 hours of playback and notes.

Sara Dosa | The Road Through Invisible
An unexpected environmental film about invisible elves, financial collapse and the power of belief told through one Icelandic family’s quest to save a threatened landscape – and the beloved home they’ve lived in for generations.

Rooftop Films and Nice Shoes Color Correction Grant

As a creative partner for feature filmmakers Nice Shoes has helped bring critically acclaimed films such as Lovesong, Pitch Perfect 2, Heaven Knows What, These Birds Walk, The Invisible Front, Arias with a Twist, and the Academy Award-nominated Garbage Dreams to the big screen. We are equally adept working from concept through completion or anywhere in-between, including production, design, color, finishing or visual effects. Nice Shoes will provide one Rooftop Films alumni with a package of color correction services for one new feature film. The package will include prep, color grading, and delivery.

Yoni Brook | The Experience Designer
ND Austin is a designer who creates worlds in places most of us avoid: water towers, derelict bridges, and sewers. Yet there is a place he has hidden since his adolescence: the island in the Alaskan wilderness where his parents raised him as part of an apocalyptic Christian commune. After one of his projects takes a tragic turn, ND realizes he must make peace with his past. Over one summer, ND returns to Chichagof Island to stage an experience to summon and confront the ghosts of his childhood.

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.

Reinaldo Marcus Green | Monsters and Men
Monsters and Men is an interwoven narrative about police violence, racial profiling and the power of perspective. Set in Bed Stuy Brooklyn, the story is told in three chapters, each from a new protagonist’s point of view: the neighborhood street hustler, a police officer, and an all-star teenage athlete. We follow the unspooling narrative as each person is impacted by the fallout from a violent episode of police brutality.

Rooftop Films Technological Cinevideo Services Camera Grant

Technological Cinevideo Services (TCS) has been the rental home for world-famous professional motion picture equipment for more than 30 years. TCS will award 21 days of high-quality camera and lens equipment for one feature-length film.

Ja’Tovia Gary | The Evidence of Things Not Seen
The Evidence of Things Not Seen is a portrait of one woman’s effort to transcend the trauma of her history. The filmmaker embarks on an intimate journey to explore the relationships with the people closest to her as well as the situations and events which helped to shape her. From tense meetings with former lovers and estranged siblings to intimate and revealing therapy sessions we learn about the healthy and not so healthy ways in which she attempts to cope. A compelling and non-traditional confessional, the film reveals a glimpse into the life of a woman on a journey to confront the emotional issues that plague her. The film provides a personal look at a woman determined to redefine herself under tenuous circumstances.

Rooftop Films and Edgeworx Post-Production Grant

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.

Petra Costa | Impeachment
With the impeachment of Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff, the nation is cracked open – embroiled in an epic political tragedy of corruption and betrayal. By intimately depicting the realpolitik on-screen, Impeachment elucidates the chaos of collapse, closely following the President and other key players involved in this urgent political crisis as it unfolds within the heart of Latin America’s biggest economy.

Rooftop Films / DCTV Equipment and Services Feature and Short Film Grantees

Founded in 1972, DCTV is an established media arts resource for NYC’s independent filmmaking community, providing affordable workshops, production equipment and space rentals, post-production facilities, signature screenings and events, renowned youth programs, and more all under the same roof as its award-winning documentary production house. DCTV will provide $5,000 credits to two separate filmmakers for DCTV equipment, services or classes. Available gear includes cameras, lights, sound recording.

Alexa Lim Haas | Agua Viva
Interacting physically and intimately with strangers all day, a manicurist in Miami attempts to communicate unsaid words and unexplored feelings through a language she cannot speak. Woven with imagined sensations, daily curiosities, and phrases not fully understood, Agua Viva explores the observations of a woman longing to connect in a place she cannot express herself in. (Pictured, left)

St. John McKay | Suicide Mondays
On Saturday, the 9th of January, the filmmaker decided to finally kill himself. On Sunday, the 10th of January, he figured out how he was going to do it. On Monday, the 11th of January, he was going to jump off a bridge onto the little island where he lost his virginity. This documentary is about that weekend.

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 passion and commitment of women artists in creating their work, and provide them with support and guidance during periods of transition and struggle. For this grant, ASF will award one $3,000 grant to a female director.

Naima Ramos-Chapman | Piu Piu
A routine trip to the city turns into a surrealist nightmare when a restless young woman tries to escape the confines of romance in order to find herself

Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Short Film Grant

For the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Short Film Grant, we will award grants ranging from $500-3,000 to male and female filmmakers. We will give grants to 3-6 projects, totaling $5,746.

Merete Mueller | The Blue Room
This experimental short documentary looks at the impact of bringing nature to the incarcerated individuals who are most removed from it.

John Wilson | The Road to Magnasanti
A simple guide on how to finish New York City.

Hilary Campbell | Uncle Jim
A young woman spends two weeks on the road with her Uncle Jim, a 63 year old bachelor and wine salesman from California. (Pictutred, left)

Rooftop Films and Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grantees

The Kayla Thomas Filmmaker grant, in commemoration of our dear friend and teammate, will be rewarded every year to one or more Rooftop Films alumni filmmakers to help them to complete a short or feature film that communicates the power of hope, collaboration and togetherness to make positive change. As we were creating this grant we knew we wanted to help new films get made, and particularly to support films that we thought would make Kayla happy

Laura Stewart | Welcome
Welcome is a short stop motion animation about making new friends.

Cara Cusumano | Shipwrecked


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. Grant applications open annually in the fall.