Filmmaker in Chief Launches

Calling all short filmmakers!

One filmmaker will win up to $50,000, plus two months in a paid luxury Mint House apartment and two months’ stipend to produce, direct and edit a short film in New York City’s Lower Manhattan neighborhood.

That’s right. The Alliance for Downtown New York has opened a call for submissions from January 16 to February 16, 2024 for filmmakers interested in a creative residency opportunity in the summer of 2024 in Lower Manhattan.


What’s the catch?

There’s no catch, just one main requirement: the short film you create must feature Lower Manhattan, whether as a backdrop for a dramatic short, the subject of a documentary or simply a (visible) source of inspiration. You’ll show us how you plan to feature Lower Manhattan in your submitted film treatment. Otherwise, you have full creative license to create a film that falls within a PG-13 rating, and any genre and style is welcome.

Note: we’re not looking for a promotional video for the neighborhood. Life in Lower Manhattan is already like living on film set, a setting to some of the world’s most famous films. We just want a short film that continues that legacy, and that Lower Manhattan features nicely.

More about the campaign

Lower Manhattan has inspired filmmakers for generations. The neighborhood’s one square mile is filled with dramatic streetscapes, steeped in rich history — a unique and deeply cinematic set of inspirations for moviemakers.

The neighborhood has a rich cinematic history having been featured prominently on HBO’s Emmy-winning TV show “Succession,” and in many films over the decades, including Spike Lee’s “Inside Man,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the classic 1949 musical “On the Town.” Could your short film continue the legacy?


The panel of judges

After submissions close on February 16 at 11:59 p.m., a preliminary round of judging will allow five finalists to emerge. These five finalists will have their treatments and videos evaluated by a jury of Lower Manhattan cultural leaders that includes Pete Torres, COO of the Tribeca Festival; Khady Kamara, executive director of the Perelman Performing Arts Center; Kwame Amoaku, deputy commissioner of the Film Office at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Wynn Thomas, production designer of many films including “Hidden Figures,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “Do the Right Thing;” and Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance.

The Downtown Alliance will notify the winner around March 5, 2024, at which point the winner will be announced to the general public.


Overview of prize details

The winner gets:

  • A $50,000 grant to create a short film on location in Lower Manhattan.
  • Two months of living rent-free at a luxury apartment at a local Mint House property
  • A $2000 monthly stipend to cover living expenses
  • Access to a professional editing suite
  • Time for pre-production, filming and editing while residing in Lower Manhattan.


Submission requirements:

  • You are 18 or older and legally able to work in the US.
  • You have already made one short film and have experience finishing a film.
  • You are available for two consecutive months between July and September 2024.
  • You possess the creative leadership skills to manage a film budget and crew.

We’re looking for talent and passion, not formalities. Formal film school training or SAG-AFTRA membership is not required. This opportunity is open to you!


To enter:

  • Create a one-minute video uploaded to YouTube explaining why you should be our Filmmaker in Chief.
  • Submit a 3-5 page film treatment outlining your unique concept and links to samples of your past completed films.
  • Your short film can run between 8-40 minutes, with the sweet spot between 8-15 minutes.

Submissions are open at from January 16 – February 16, 2024.

Read the fine print and FAQs for more information. Any further questions, email [email protected]
For press inquiries: [email protected]

Filmmakers! Submit Here

See our past contest: Explorer in Chief

Before there was Filmmaker in Chief, there was Explorer in Chief. In early 2020, the Downtown Alliance launched the Explorer in Chief contest, calling for one-minute video submissions for the ultimate summer dream job: living rent-free downtown for three months and getting paid to be Lower Manhattan’s Explorer In Chief. This life-changing opportunity to work as a travel ambassador in one of the world’s high-profile tourism destinations was a game-changing success for Lower Manhattan as well, highlighting the neighborhood as an extraordinary place to visit as well as to live and work.