HouseSpecial’s Stop-Motion Short Takes ‘Best Animated Film’ At Oregon Independent Film Festival

Aaron Sorenson, a Director at Portland animation studio HouseSpecial, received the award for Best Animated Film for the stop-motion short Jailbreak during the award ceremony at The Oregon Independent Film Festival (OIFF) held on September 24, 2016 in Portland’s Clinton Street Theater.

Jailbreak, shot in black and white, follows the daring escape of a desperate prisoner fleeing his nightmarish cell in pursuit of sweet punishment.  Written and directed by Sorenson, this short is a German Expressionist-inspired design mash-up of stop motion with a 2D design sensibility … and a decidedly adult twist.

“I am thrilled Jailbreak was recognized by OIFF. The award show was truly an event of fascination, hilarity, emotion and general oddness … I was happy to attend. It captured the spirit of the festival perfectly,” Sorenson said. “It was inspiring to see so many dedicated filmmakers following their own artistic path of self-expression.”

The production participated in the state of Oregon’s Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF) incentive program, and was created through HouseSpecial’s Short Stuff™ program.

Jailbreak - a stop-motion short from HouseSpecial“I wanted to create a unique, funny short that pushed the look and style into something unlike anything the studio had done before. Our CG short A Tale of Momentum & Inertia was such a success, so we wanted to flip the process and create something tangible with an entirely different aesthetic and a strong narrative,” Sorenson said. He was inspired most directly by the silent German Expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Golem and prison break films such as Escape from Alcatraz, I Was a Prisoner on a Chain Gang, and Papillon. The main character, Klaus, was inspired by Cubism (mostly Picasso) with a flattened skewed aesthetic.

“Stop motion just seemed right for the story in terms of atmosphere and capturing an intentional theatrical feel. The textures and tangibility of practical sets and characters are really arresting and doing it in black and white makes the viewer focus on those details.”

As part of our studio, Sorenson has worked with They Might Be Giants to create the music video Bastard Wants to Hit Me and directed work for Nike®, Starbucks®, Shaw Cable, Honey Nut Cheerios®, Target®, Orville Redenbacher® and Dole®. He garnered big honors at many environmental and animation festivals for his work on The Surfrider Foundation’s PSA Rise Above Plastics and for his animation direction on credit sequences for LAIKA’s animated features ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.

“There are an amazing amount of details throughout the short that the crew added. In the opening shot there is the most wonderfully disgusting toilet way down in the bowels of that awful prison cell. Originally we had spikes coming out of the bowl, but it was a little hard to read at such a small scale. There’s also this weird cage torture thing I love that is a prop in the end shot. There are treasures like that all over, especially at the end of the short. I love how great model builders will bring such enthusiasm and creative little details to everything they touch.”


Savannah Film Festival 
October 22-29, 2016.

Anima Mundi
(Brazil) –
Rio on October 25, 2016 and São Paulo – November 2-6, 2016.

KROK International Animated Films Festival
(Moscow) –
September 20-28, 2016

Festival Stop Motion Montreal
(Canada) –
September 16-18, 2016

Burbank International Film Festival
September 7-11, 2016

Montreal International Animation Film Festival 
(Canada) –
August 18, 2016

Animation Block Party
(Brooklyn) –
July 29, 2016

Drunken Film Festival
(Bradford, UK) –
July 28, 2016

Neum Animated Film Festival
(Bosnia and Herzegovina) –
June 28, 2016

Fear No Film – The Utah Arts Festival
June 23, 2016

Annecy International Animation Film Festival
June 13-17, 2016

Blue Plum Animation Festival 
June 3, 2016

About HouseSpecial

“Animation isn’t just a storytelling medium – it’s our life force and our passion.”

HouseSpecial, formerly LAIKA/house, can make anything move. We are animation experts. Our Portland creative team is globally known for our ability to develop characters in narrative environments for iconic brands like M&M’S, Supercell’s Boom Beach, Planters, Apple, ESPN, Target and Honey Nut Cheerios. We have collaborated with advertising agencies Barton F. Graf, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Wieden+Kennedy, TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, Leo Burnett and BBDO on hundreds of spots – many of which earned big awards and are part of advertising lore.

The studio, under the leadership of President.EP Lourri Hammack, Chief Creative Office and Creative Director Kirk Kelley and Chief Operating Officer Alvaro Cubillas, specializes in short to mid-form animated content in 2D, CG and stop motion mediums. Watch all the latest work at

Twitter: @housespecialpdx


Instagram: @housespecialpdx


Crew Credits

Conceived & Directed by Aaron Sorenson
From HouseSpecial – a Short Stuff™ production

Creative Director: Kirk Kelley
Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
Production Designer: Alan Cook
DP: John Nolan
Editor: Steve Miller, Cam Williams
Line Producer: Nicole Fitzhugh
Production Assistant: Alex Webster

Character Designer: Aaron Sorenson, Alan Cook
Background/Environment Design: Craig Bowers, Don Flores, Sharon Huang, Kristy Kay, Phillip Spehar, Tod Polson

Character Fabrication: Katie Mello, Margaret Meyer, Chris Ohlgren
Set/Prop Fabrication Lead: Greg Fosmire
Set/Prop Fabrication: Gary Logue, Katie Mello, Margaret Meyer, Josh Pearce, Emma Van Halsema

Animator: Suzanne Twining
Swing/Electric/Grip: Jake Hauswirth
Wrangler: Rob Melchior
Art Dept/Stage Manager: Erica Johnson

FX: Patrick Van Pelt
Opening Titles: José Díaz, Stephen Bodin
Matte Painting: Stephen Bodin
Flame Artist: Rex Carter
Editorial Assistant: Dino Coons

Original Music Produced By: Mophonics
Original Music By: Roberto Murguia and Róisín Malone
Creative Producer: Kristoffer Roggemann
Creative Director: Stephan Altman
Sound Design & Mix By: Lance Limbocker, Limbocker Studios

A special thanks to the Oregon Film Board.


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