Not true! I have a staff pick, and I had ZERO audience before that to get momentum from. But I didn't just upload it and hoped someone watched it,
here's exactly what I did:
step 1. Make a list of every possible niche that your short film/work is in. I had 3 or 4
Step 2. FInd at least 1,000 websites that are relevant to your niches. This is the hardest part but it pays off huge.
Step 3. Email every single one of them on the same day a personal email saying that their audience might be into your work and asking them to promote it. Some people will ignore you and some will decline, but you'd be surprised how many are nice and willing to share your work.
For my video. it went from nothing to 10k views in a very short time which was enough to get vimeo noticing it.
That's not a guarantee they'll staff pick it. but it's a guarantee they'll watch it.