‘A Small Escape’ is No Small Feat

Imagine inanimate objects having a heart and soul and a desire to break free from the confines of its existence. A Small Escape tells the tale of a pair of scissors, and what lengths it goes through to branch out on its own.

Escaping the confines of any situation requires creativity and planning. This film, which runs under three minutes, reveals just how much work is involved in the simple act of fleeing to freedom. The scissors may be small, but its quest is a large one, and something that it had thought about for quite some time.

Waiting until the coast is clear, the scissors swings off its hook in the kitchen and walks cautiously out of the room. What’s next? Race for the door? No, that could take too long. Without hesitation it makes its way to the office, passing a toy train and toy dog on wheels, that watch it with interest. Stopping for a moment, glancing up at a bird outside a nearby window, which chirps and then flies away, the scissors then climb a stepladder, conveniently placed near a desk.

Once there it surveys the items in front of it: two of rolls of tape, sticky-note pads, a pen, a pencil, a tube of paint and paperclips. They are motionless, not moving until the scissors clicks its blades together. Soon they come to life and assemble to create the one thing they need to escape.

Or were they lying dormant all along, or were they waiting for the signal? Perhaps in their own way they’re working together for a common goal and not just helping the scissors. They are working as a team, combining each of their strengths to come up with one united way to charge through and leave their environment.

It is often heard that people in captivity associate freedom with a bird taking flight. This film takes that metaphor literally. How many times have we heard people say, “Free as a bird,” or seen someone try to mimic one, flapping makeshift wings in hopes of soaring through the air? These office products attempt just that, using tape rolls as eyes, sticky notes as wings, the tube of glue as the body, paperclips as legs and the scissors as the beak. They jump up to the window sill, taking one last look at the toys, who gaze up at them in amazement, unable to do anything but sit there, perplexed with what they are seeing. Then the makeshift bird leaps out of the window as one, falling at first, but soon find their wings.

Why the scissors? Why not the ladle or the frying pan? Somehow none of those would have made as terrific a bird as a pair of scissors, tape and a tube of glue. The only thing it didn’t do was write a goodbye note to the homeowner, but perhaps they didn’t deserve one for how it treated the scissors, the paperclips and the glue.

If the escape hadn’t been so well orchestrated, and had been more spontaneous, the scissors probably would have tried to hack its way out the front door or tried to break a window. That wouldn’t have been as creative and probably would not have been as entertaining to watch. In some ways it might have been a much shorter film, which would have been less enjoyable.

Telling a story in under three minutes is no small feat either, and this film manages to do it creatively, using computer generated animation that’s very realistic-looking, right down to the dust in shaft of light emanating from the kitchen as the scissors makes its way out into the hallway.

A Small Escape won Best Animation at Sweden’s Short Film Festival 2016. The animator, David Sandell, specializes in CG graphics. He’s currently on staff at the Swedish production studio, Depiction, which has produced several music videos, commercials and short films.

Monica Sztybel

Monica majored in English at Muhlenberg College. After graduation she worked at CBS for two years and on the films The Stoned Age and Leprechaun 2. These days she's writing blogs, scripts and novels, as well as chatting about film production to anyone willing to listen.

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