Around Town: Rooftop Films comes to L.A. with free screening
Getting Los Angeles audiences out to see independent films, especially those from fledgling filmmakers without big-name stars, is a notoriously difficult proposition. Yet one group that has found success in New York doing just that now hopes to translate its efforts to the West Coast.
Rooftop Films will put on its first event in Los Angeles on Thursday night at the Andaz West Hollywood with a screening of the film "Falling Overnight."
The nonprofit organization recently wrapped its 15th season of outdoor film screenings in New York City with some 48 events staged at various venues. The group previously has set up events in other cities, and program director Dan Nuxoll described Thursday's one-off event in L.A. as a way for the Rooftop Films to "get our foot in the water" for future screenings in town.
"L.A. seems like a natural fit. You guys have some great outdoor events," said Nuxoll, making specific reference to the Cinespia series at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, "but it seems to me there's a lot more room for outdoor events in L.A., especially stuff that's a little more indie than some of the other events."
"Falling Overnight," which screened in New York as part of Rooftop Films' Summer Series, tells the story of an L.A. twentysomething (Parker Croft) who is about to have brain surgery. On the eve of the procedure, he meets a young photographer (Emilia Zoryan), and the two spend the night covering the city. The film marks the feature debut for director Conrad Jackson, who also co-wrote the screenplay and served as the movie's cinematographer, editor and executive producer.
The event at the Andaz will not technically be outdoors, but the screening will be in an event space on the roof of the hotel that looks down over the Sunset Strip, giving this L.A. film an added dimension.
"I think showing the film with a view in the background of Los Angeles, it always changes the way people appreciate the film," Nuxoll said. "That's something that we always strive to do whenever we do our screenings. Whenever we can, we want the location to augment the experiences of watching the movie in that place, so there's a little bit of of a dialogue between the location and the film itself. It sort of changes the way you look at your city, it changes the way you look at the film."
As Rooftop Films begins to put on events in Los Angeles it will face the typical challenge of building an audience here. Some of this summer's screenings in NYC drew crowds ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,500 people, but it will likely take some time to reach anywhere near those kinds of numbers in L.A.
"Our mission is to help these films and advance these filmmakers," Nuxoll said. "It's not just in Los Angeles that indie films have trouble breaking in — indie films still have trouble breaking into the market anywhere in America. So our mission isn't just to expand in Los Angeles but to get these films out there in any way we possibly can. And of course Los Angeles is a hugely influential market and anything we can do to push forward these films we really believe in, we think it's our mission to look into what we can do."
Doors open at 7 p.m. with the screening starting at 7:30 p.m. to be followed by a Q&A and reception. The event is free with RSVP,though seating is limited. Visit the Rooftop Films website for more information.
— Mark Olsen
Photo: Emilia Zoryan and Parker Croft in 'Falling Overnight.' Credit: Rooftop Films