A short film can be something very difficult to sell, with so much competition and junk online, it is a near impossible deed to lure a considerable number of viewers in. That’s why posters and cover images become so important to make a stagnant first impression. But getting someone to click your link is one thing, getting them stay is another.

The biggest drop off of viewers in a short film comes within the first 15 seconds. An audience can usually figure out within that time frame if a film will be of taste or not, unfortunately they may sometimes be wrong, but they will never find out. That’s why it is extremely important to wow your audience the first chance you get!

Starting off your film with a dull or mediocre shot may be giving your audience an opportunity to give up. As filmmakers we tempt to save the best for last, which is a formula that may work best for a feature length or theatre-only targeted films, but to keep an online audience hooked, you need to start early and keep it rolling until the very end. It’s not always evident to keep an audience hooked with the storyline early on, so it is important to set the mood early and place the audience in awe from the get-go.

Here are a few great examples that wowed us early on.


Bright colors, a goofy character and a liveful environment set the toony tone to Toonocalypse.

Opening shot from Toonocalypse
Toonocalypse by Owen Rixon


Hell and death are the themes for ‘Shell’, and they kick off their short with a dark wide shot of the main setting. The CGI journey you are embarking on is of evident quality from the first glimpse.

Opening shot from 'Shell'
Shell by Daniel Ahrens

The Maiden

The first shot of The Maiden makes your heart race from the get-go… Wonder how the rest of the movie will be?

Opening shot from 'The Maiden'
The Maiden by Michael Chaves


Upside down and unusual, but visually grasping.

Opening shot from 'Chop'.
Chop by Conner Bell


Sundays, winner of our 2015 Short of The Year, uses its title sequence to lure us with incredible imagery while setting up the science fiction futuristic setting.

Opening shot from 'Sundays'
Sundays by Mischa Rozema


Destroyer starts with a rather mysterious introduction. No name and no words, but the act of surprise sets up an interesting foreshadowing to come.

Opening shot from 'Destroyer'
Destroyer by Kevan Funk

The Grey Matter

Not the first time we see a first shot with a man gaining consciousness covered in blood. But the sweet alley setting with the aircraft flying through already hints at a well thought out film.

Opening shot from 'The Grey Matter'
The Grey Matter by The McCoubrey Brothers

Next Floor

A rumpling and mysterious long close up shot of a man kicks off this thumping short. The shot lasts just over 40 seconds, zooming out to reveal an empowering wall painting, and slightly zooming back into the character, without hinting the slightest squint. You’re in for a real feast.

Opening shot from 'Next Floor'.
Next Floor by Denis Villeneuve

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Opening Shots From Short Films