Filmmaker in Chief Contest FAQs

The Alliance for Downtown New York has opened submissions to the Lower Manhattan Filmmaker in Chief residency from January 16 to Feb 16, 2024. All submissions are to be made at and more information can be found at A comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers can be found below.

How should my film feature Lower Manhattan?

The details are entirely up to you! We just ask that your film be set primarily within the boundaries of Lower Manhattan (see below for details). You can use Lower Manhattan as a main character, a location on your shot list, a plot point, a historical setting or whatever else you can imagine.

What are the boundaries of “Lower Manhattan”?

Our district boundaries can be found here. For the purposes of this contest, Lower Manhattan stretches from Chambers Street in the north to the East River to the East, the Battery to the South and the Hudson River to the west. Liberty, Ellis, and Governors Islands may also all be considered for inclusion in storytelling. 

How long is the winning short film expected to be?

The winning film will be between 8 and 40 minutes total run time, including credits. Eight minutes minimum and 40 minutes maximum. 

Do I keep the rights to my short film if I win?

The Downtown Alliance will own the film; however, the Downtown Alliance will give you a non-exclusive license to use the film as you see fit; provided, the Alliance reserves the right to refuse any use of the film that brings the Downtown Alliance into public disrepute, contempt, scandal, or ridicule, which insults or offends the general community to which the Downtown Alliance’s marketing or promotional materials are directed, which might tend to harm the Downtown Alliance or any of its services, or is inconsistent with the values of the Downtown Alliance.

Is there a rating requirement on my film?

The winning film must meet eligibility requirements for a rating no greater than PG-13 as described by the Motion Picture Association.

Can I submit my film treatment via email?

Short answer: no. In order to be considered a legal submission, you must create a one minute video that tells us who you are and why you should be our Filmmaker in Chief AND submit a film treatment no longer than three pages with links to previous work and an introductory video which must be uploaded to YouTube, and that link along with your treatment + past work PDF must be submitted to the form found at, the contest submission page. If for any reason the page isn’t working, you must reach out to us and receive special permission to apply any other way. 

What should be included in the one-minute YouTube video? 

This is your chance to personalize your submission and tell us (or show us) why you should be chosen for this residency. Share who you are, your background as a filmmaker, your professional and creative goals, your style and inspiration, etc. You should also share a little about your past films.

What should be included in the film treatment?

A film treatment is a summary of a film or television show. It should communicate all of the essential scenes, themes, and tone of the project, what resources and locations you’re thinking about, how Lower Manhattan will feature in the film, and estimated budget. In this PDF, we also need to see links to your past work. 

When will the winner be announced?

The contest closes on February 16, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. Each submission will be watched and read in its entirety. Five finalists will then be chosen and sent to our panel of jurors who will then decide the winner. The Downtown Alliance will notify the winner around March 5, 2024, at which point we will also announce the winner to the general public. 

Is there an entry fee to apply for this residency? 

No, there is no fee. It’s absolutely free to apply. 

What is the timeline for the Filmmaker in Chief residency?

The winner must spend two consecutive months between July and September 2024 living and working downtown. In this time, the winner will have time for pre-production, filming on location, and access to an editing suite. A final director’s cut must be provided 60 days after the final day of the creative residency. 

Where will the winner live and work?

The winner will be given free accommodation for the duration of their residency at Mint House, a luxury apartment-style hotel in the neighborhood. The short-term rental building features an on-site concierge, state-of-the-art fitness center, bowling alley and golf simulator as well as a gourmet market, third-wave coffee shop, fast-casual kitchen and a Michelin-starred restaurant. 

How will the winner be required to budget and account for the $50,000?  

The winner will be provided an award of up to $50,000 for expenses directly required for the production of the film. An initial sum will be given according to estimated budget projection so that the filmmaker can get started. All expenses will need to be accounted for by receipts and provisionally approved in a pre-production budget provided by the winner. 

How much is the monthly stipend? 

The winner will be paid a fee for services of $2,000 per month for up to eight (8) weeks of production time. This can be used to cover additional expenses such as meals and hotel expenses other than the nightly room charge; room service, movie rentals, bar charges, etc. are not included and are your responsibility to pay. 

Can I enter a treatment for my film that’s already in production but needs post work?

No, this must be a wholly original treatment, script and idea that features Lower Manhattan. Filming is expected to be done during the time living on site. 

Can I utilize my own funding in addition to the Filmmaker in Chief money?

The winner may use and raise additional funds for the production of the film, but there may be no agreements with a third-party that include commercial or product placement(s). Also, the source of the additional funding may not become an aspect of the film in any way nor may it have any approval rights over the film.

What genres are you looking for?

We are open to all ideas and genres, whether fiction, non-fiction, animation, stop motion or documentary, thriller, romance, comedy, drama or anything in between. 

Can I submit the finished film to festivals?

Yes! In fact, the Alliance will be happy to help with this.

Will I need permits to film in Lower Manhattan?

Not all filming requires permits. You will refer to requirements on permitting and insurance clearly stated on the NYC Office of Media and Entertainment website regarding permitting. The Alliance and the Office of Media and Entertainment will be available for questions and pre-production planning. 

Where does the money come from?

The money all comes from the Downtown Alliance. The stipend is paid monthly, and we will provide the award of up to $50,000 allocated to direct production expenses, based on your pre-approved budget, in three installments. We can work out the payment schedule with you. 

Who are the judges?

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

We’re happy to help to answer your questions. First, read through for more information, plus all these FAQs listed here as well as the Terms & Conditions PDF here. If you still have questions, please reach out to [email protected] and our team will get back to you. If you are a member of the press you can reach out to [email protected] directly.