Sure, if you are able to wrangle a name actor to appear in your film, then you want to splash that name all over the DVD and in the opening credits of your film.
But if you're making a short comedy and we put the DVD in the player and have to sit through a series of credits such as "Joe Nobody" and "Melissa Who" in a "So-and-so film," then we know pretty much right off the bat that this film is not for us. If we don't already know who these people are, then we don't care. You're just eating time. We'll watch the end credits if we're curious who was playing which role.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. But most of the time, above the title credits show us that the filmmaker is misguided about what is important in a short comedy film.
We don't care what the names of your actors are. We don't need an expensive DVD cover with their names plastered all over it. On that note, we don't need anything on your DVD cover since we're going to watch it anyway (more on that in a future post).
The only reason for names to appear before the title or before the movie begins is if there is a contractual agreement that they appear there. For those of you who don't know, that's why you see actors' names in certain positions in the credits of Hollywood features and why they're listed the way they are on movie posters. An actor's contract may insist that his or her name appear at the start of a movie in a certain position. Other actors' agents may know this and also fight to get their client placed in a specific place as well. These choices are not creative, or even in the power of the filmmaker much of the time.
So if a filmmaker is doing this on his or her own, he or she is merely trying to appear professional by doing what he or she sees in Hollywood films. OK for your feature. You want to look like you're playing with the big boys with the opening credits of your feature. But for a short film, you're just eating up valuable time.
We often receive film submissions with long opening credit sequences in the 2-minute range. We even received one with a 5 minute sequence! We felt that no matter how good that movie was, we couldn't justify screening a movie that had an opening title sequence longer than many other very good short comedies we've shown. Luckily though, the movie wasn't any good, proving, as we mentioned earlier in this post, that filmmakers who spend time on long opening credit sequences don't understand how to make good short films.
We would like to note that an opening credit sequence that is used to set the mood of the film or reveal plot or character information is perfectly fine. A funny opening credit sequence would be great too. It's just that filmmakers who submit to us with long opening credit sequences tend not to do that kind of thing. Because, well, you know (see above).