Rooftop Films kicked off its 2007 Summer Series this weekend with a free sneak preview screening in Fort Greene Park. It also kicked off a pretty incredible new partnership with IFC.com, the website of the Independent Film Channel.
We started Rooftop Films as a pretty low-tech affair: To get in, you had to pull a string at street level that was attached to a bell on the roof. The projectionist had to hold his hand on the takeup reel to keep the wind from blowing it off. Mark promoted the event by passing out handwritten notes on scraps of paper.
Within two years, we had figured out that luan plywood attached to tin studs was lighter and more durable than sheetrock on two-by-fours and that spending $5000 on a video projector was a smart investment if we were serious about this film festival thing.
Rooftop Films is now one of the largest film festivals in New York City, if you measure by attendance, number of films shown, number of screenings, or number of hours, though certainly not if you measure by budget. They show the best films bar none and the Summer Series is pretty widely acknowledged by New Yorkers as one of the coolest things about summer in the city. (I can say this unabashedly since I’m no longer directly involved, except as a friend and member of the audience.)
And now it hits the little screens for all of the online world to enjoy! Yay for technology. Every day this summer you will be able to see a new, lovable, fascinating, daring short film on the Rooftop channel at IFC.com. 100 movies in all.
It’s exciting to see Rooftop getting some recognition after all of Mark’s, Dan’s, and Sarah’s hard work. (Sundance showed love earlier this year when they asked Mark to be on the shorts jury for their festival.)
It’s also exciting that these films will be able to reach an even larger audience, since that was the whole reason we started the thing – to build audiences for deserving movies that would otherwise go underappreciated. If we wanted people in other cities to see these movies, we used to have to load the projector into the car and drive them there ourselves.
Nothing beats seeing those movies in the great outdoors, of course, and many of the Rooftop movies can only be seen at the live screenings. So if you’re anywhere near NYC this Friday, be sure to check out the opening night event, “This is What We Mean By Short Films…” on the roof of the Open Road Rooftop Project (350 Grand Street @ Essex on the Lower East Side).