Short and sweet: Minutes-long films to escape with

Sometimes thinking inside the box can bring out more creativity than thinking outside of it.  These creative short films accomplish a lot in just a few minutes (or even seconds).

Take a few minutes to escape from the day with these short films. Image credit: Geber86/iStock
Take a few minutes to escape from the day with these short films. Image credit: Geber86/iStock

Feeling restless? Escape into a different world with these short films. Having a short attention span can actually be an asset, preventing you from sinking hours into a feature film or TV series. These short films may be short on runtime, but that doesn’t mean they’re short on imagination.

Since they don’t need a big studio or budget, shorts are the great equalizer, allowing independent filmmakers to realize their visions without interference. The films featured on this list are prime examples of how working outside the system can give voice to more original storytelling and better time management.

Multi-genre platforms

Vimeo Staff Picks

Youtube might be the most popular video sharing platform, but Vimeo has the highest quality content. Check out their staff picks for the best short films on the net across all genres and from creators across the globe. 


This newly-launched service is pay-to-play, but if you sign up soon you can take advantage of their 90-day free trial. There’s some serious star-power behind it, with short shows featuring Chrissy Tiegen, LeBron James, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, and more. It’s a magical world where shorts get the same big budgets as blockbusters.

Short of the Week

Is your decision fatigue so great that even a narrowed-down list like this one feels like too many options? Cut to the chase with just one top-shelf short per week. Founded by a couple of film fans, they’ve expanded to an entire team of experts who are essentially curating a never-ending mini film festival. Speaking of…

Palm Springs International Film Society

Cannes Film Fest may be postponed indefinitely, but Palm Springs’ Shortfest Spotlight has you covered in the meantime. Every few days their list of critically-acclaimed shorts is updated and you can watch them all for free. This is one you’ll want to add to your bookmarks.

Film Center Serbia

Explore the perspectives of Serbian artists through their short films. All the films have English subtitles available, and a new video is added every day. Our favorites are the animated ones with their unique art styles.

Fantasy and Sci-fi

Oats Studios

Remember Neil Blomkamp, the Oscar-nominated director of “District 9”, “Elysium”, and “Chappie”? The reason you haven’t seen much of him in the blockbuster circuit recently is because he founded his own independent film studio. The fantastical sci-fi shorts the studio’s produced are more intriguing and impressive than most full-length sci-fi movies.


DUST makes all sorts of sci-fi content, including tons of shorts you can watch on their Youtube channel. As we all know, sci-fi can take on many sub-genres and with Dust you’ll find drama, comedy, and horror within the futuristic universes. Alongside recent creations, they’ve also premiered the early short films from acclaimed directors like George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, and Rian Johnson.


Five Second Films

These are likely the shortest short films you will ever watch. Before Vine and TikTok, the funny folks at Five Second Films set themselves the challenge of telling entire comedic stories in mere seconds. Though the humor might be juvenile, their creativity and fun spirit has got them guest appearances from accomplished comedians such as Fred Armisen and Patton Oswalt.

British Comedy Guide

If your sense of humor is less punny and more dry wit, you’ll want to peruse these chuckle-worthy shorts from the UK. For those of you who’ve binge-watched “The Office” too many times, this site will help you broaden your horizons without committing to another multi-season behemoth.


Real stories

If you’re looking for documentaries you won’t have to sink hours into, check out “Real Stories” via Youtube. The channel is dedicated to collecting documentaries from all kinds of sources around the world. With hundreds of docs ranging from under 10 minutes to an hour and half, you’re bound to find something you’re interested in. 


The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam also has hundreds of documentaries of varying lengths and topics, but with the added bonus  of having that film-festival acclaim. Plus, you can filter by subject and country of origin. Start with “My Inner Wolf”, a bizarre and interactive animated film.


Get your fix of horror with these short films. Image credit: urbazon/iStock
Get your fix of horror with these short films. Image credit: urbazon/iStock

Crypt TV

Crypt TV’s biggest strength is their unique creature designs. Even before they were pulling in millions of views per video, their effects were creepier and better-looking than a lot of the low-effort, cash-grab horror flicks that actually make it into theaters. With backing from horror powerhouse Blumhouse and both a Streamy and Webby award to their name, they’re not to be overlooked.


Location, location, location. If you like your scares heavy on the atmosphere, check out this Youtube channel. From a windowed modern cabin in the woods to a dilapidated post-apocalypse mansion, the settings enhance the characters’ isolation while giving you the sense that they’re happening in the — or at least a — real world. 


Found footage fans, rejoice! This 12-episode series follows two women investigating a strange case of sleepwalking and the disappearance of a student. It won “Best Horror Series” at the Berlinale WebFest in 2019, and it’s no wonder why. Their commitment to realism is immersive. They even created a forum for afflicted sleepwalkers, so be sure to post if you think you found the answer…


Marlys Klossner

Marlys, a journalism major from Canada, now calls Germany home. She spends her days writing punchy copy and lovely long-form articles, and spends her evenings watching so-bad-it's-bad reality TV. Her prized possessions? Medals from her days as a synchronized swimmer.