Netherlands Tax Haven

The reputation of the Netherlands around the world is generally pretty good, but did you know it's also a tax haven?

Commissioned by SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) Mister Lee created an infographic that gives the reader a brief introduction into the problem of tax dodging by large corporations. In short, the problem is that regular citizens contribute more and more, while large companies manage to contribute less and less to society. We took this project from briefing to concept to creation.

View the English version here
Bekijk de Nederlandse versie hier

The infographic ends with a few practical,
achievable solutions to solve the problem.

See more of our work here.

After 'Losing Nemo'

Some backstory on our project 'Losing Nemo', released in mid-2013

In this post we will take a look at the exposure 'Losing Nemo' got and its effects, what we learned from the project, how we collaborated with the people on the team, some noteworthy critiques, and tell you a bit about what's up next.

If you haven't seen the film,
you can do so here.


Exposure and Effects

The different versions of the film have gotten more than 100.000 views together, in quite a short time. We were featured on Treehugger, Cartoonbrew, National Geographic, and many other blogs and newspapers around the world.

Wietse van der Werf, founder of The Black Fish: "Since the release of Losing Nemo, donations, social media following and website traffic have all gone up considerably. Public screenings have been organised across Europe and the film has given the organisation the unique possibility to reach out to a big audience and get people to understand the work of The Black Fish in a creative and hard-hitting way."

The very first festival selection of 'Losing Nemo' came from KLIK! festival in our hometown of Amsterdam. Exciting times!


What we learned

Making 'Losing Nemo' was quite a eye-opener for us, mainly in how powerful a creative community can be when driven by a shared and worthy cause. We were simply amazed at how much of their free time team members wanted to give and how willingly they wanted to be a part of a temporary organisation with a classic film production structure. Some of the team members had never worked on any production before and really blossomed.

As a studio, we've mainly done commissioned work before; 'Losing Nemo' is our first self-initiated project. We've learned that we can be more daring. It's ok to stand up and just do the things we really want to do; if you're enthusiastic, honest and open, the things you need will come your way. Making animated film will never be easy, but when we get the chance to involve a lot of talented and caring people, there really are no limits to what we can do together. 'Losing Nemo' sure wasn't an easy weekend project, but given the context, time-frame, scope and approach, we will never regret doing it.



Perhaps the biggest challenge was to ensure that everybody that worked on the film would feel ownership over it, while still aiming to create a solid film with a focussed and engaging story-line. This meant a lot of talking and really taking the time to listen to one another a lot. The input from everyone was used to write the script and draw the storyboard and these were then challenged by the entire team. It was like a giant living puzzle, with thousands of little visual and story ideas that needed a home in the film. Not every idea survived, but in the end, everyone saw their own ideas back in the final result. As you'll understand, this is a great encouragement for what the Mister Lee studio aims to develop itself towards: community-built, cinematic films concerning urgent themes that matter to all of us.



Several people have told us that there's a flaw in the film that we agree with: the film lacks a part with a focus on tangible solutions. The original idea was that we would tell a universal story of an ocean under threat and then show what The Black Fish's contribution to the solution is; we didn't want to claim to hold the solution, because in reality the solution is made up of the combined efforts of everyone involved in ocean conservation. Although we think the film is very powerful and definitely gets a point across, it seems apparent that we need to make a part II some day, where we provide people with an overview of all the ways we are and could be doing something about the problems.

National Geographic wondered if 'Losing Nemo' goes too far by presenting the fishing industry as a 'black hat enemy', while there are increasing numbers of fishermen taking steps to make their industry more sustainable. In the comments, many people defended the claims and angle of 'Losing Nemo'. We didn't intend to demonise the fishing industry as a whole but understand it could be interpreted like that. We did want to raise awareness about the extend of the consequences of an ever evolving industrial fishing industry, some rather extreme fishing practices of today and the ridiculously high fishing subsidies in a time when fish populations are being threatened at such a massive scale.


What's next

Currently, we're still patching the financial hole that five months of unpaid work has resulted in; there is absolutely no regret about this though and things are generally looking ok; new projects keep coming in. When it comes to the next self-initiated project, we give ourselves the time to think about it until the end of the year. In 2014, we aim to launch a new project, around another social / environmental theme. There isn't much that we can say about this yet, because at this time, we simply don't know yet what direction it will take. We can say this though: we want to go for maximum impact and involve a lot of bright and talented people. We will choose a theme that's on the minds of many people in this time and go for a very high quality. And we'll be looking for funds, to be able to at least eat a few meals a day and have a roof over our beds at night ;-)


Thank you all

A very big thank you goes out to all the people that have helped in some big or little way. The creative team of course, but also their partners. The many compliments on concept work online were extremely motivating. And of course all of your shares across the globe. Next to the close to two billion views of 'Gangnam Style' our 100.000 views are peanuts perhaps, but 100.000 x 6 minutes / 60 minutes / 24 hours / 365 days is still about 1,14 years worth of watching 'Losing Nemo'! Also, we like to thank Disney / Pixar, for not suing our asses for abusing one of their iconic films a little bit ... nothing but respect for you guys ;-)

We hope you'll help us out again next time, either as a supporter or a creative, or just by simply sharing.


All the best, Douwe.

ps: since you've made it all the way to the end, there might still be some unanswered questions on your mind. Please share these questions with us, so we can update this post.

Running and upcoming projects, Q4 of 2013

After a laid back summer, the end of the year is pretty busy. We're happy to welcome several new clients.


Both Ends asked us to create a campaign concerning the Dutch gas policy, to break the myth of gas as a sustainable source of energy.

Dutch gas production will probably peak in the next few decades, but the Dutch government still intends to invest heavily in becoming the 'gas hub of Europe'. This means that we will go from a gas producing, to a gas dealing and transporting nation. The problem with this is that we will become increasingly dependent on gas from very far away places, where human rights and environmental precautions are often taken quite lightly, in many cases by autocratic regimes. Since there's a lot of public money from the European Union involved in all this, it's important that people know some crucial facts about the future of gas in the Netherlands and Europe. The campaign will consist of an animated film and several derivative campaign tools.


The Dutch police hired us the create an awareness campaign concerning burglary, aimed at basically everyone in the central police district of the Netherlands.

We interviewed and filmed several people that either professionally or through personal experience have witnessed the dramatic consequences of a burglary. We redacted the stories into a PDF-magazine, we edited a film including a staged burglary, created visual tools for online campaigning and we designed a campaign website. The result was a Social Media Toolkit that our client can share with all relevant partners, ready to use.

On October 5th, the campaign will go live, through the media channels of 41 municipalities in the Netherlands.


Bits of Freedom is a Dutch organisation that works to defend citizen's rights online.

We'll be creating an online public awareness campaign for them tied to their lobbying campaign. We will show the public some of the privacy violations that many of us allow online on a daily basis without much thought. The project will consist of a small series of sketches done by actors and will revolve around the oldest line in the book when it comes to privacy apathy: "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear".


Inashco is a company located deep in the harbour of Rotterdam. It aims to filter out every last bit of metal value from the residue that large garbage incinirators produce. One might think that this is a 'dirty business', but when you consider that Inashco's techniques outputs 90% less carbon dioxide compared to actually mining the earth for aluminium for instance, it's a significant environmental improvement. Therefore, we're quite enthusiastic about working for this company.


'Losing Nemo' now free to watch online!

We proudly present our first self-initiated film. We hope you enjoy it!

Losing Nemo is a six-minute long animated film about industrial overfishing, made by a 30+ strong international team of creatives! What began as just an idea turned out much bigger than we could possibly have anticipated. From concept to writing, from 3D-modelling to animating and to the composition of music; it has all been done on a voluntary basis. People from Germany to Spain and from Venezuela to New-Zealand have contributed to the first self-initiated project of Mister Lee.

Most of us know that the state of the ocean is dire, but few know how dire exactly. We decided to support The Black Fish, an Amsterdam based environmental organisation, with a film. We made a conscious decision to produce this film without any budget, to give people a taste of where we want to go with theme, approach and quality in near future. We are very proud of what we have achieved, but we know we can do better. We hope that Losing Nemo will serve as a strong argument for possible funding of our next project.

If you like it, please share the film, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, so we can keep you updated.

Thonik designs the new Mister Lee website

The lovely people from Thonik have done a great job with our new online presence.

Our new website, the one you're currently visiting, has been designed by the wonderful people at Thonik, in collaboration with Stefan van den Heuvel.

This Amsterdam based design-agency has designed the identity of many very large organisations, like the public library of Amsterdam, the museum Boijmans van Beuningen, both the Amsterdam and Utrecht art academies, and many, many more.

The briefing they got from us contained three important communication goals:

  1. Show that Mister Lee is a socially & environmentally engaged studio.
  2. Present Mister Lee as the community it has become.
  3. Show that we are serious but accessible professionals.

Both our website pages and business cards form the awesome Mister Lee rainbow, from the sun, to plants to water. It's pretty amazing to see how much can be communicated with such a simple graphic design style.

Duurzame Pleinen (Sustainable City Squares)

Duurzame Pleinen is an initiative that aims to make people involved in city planning aware of sustainable their sustainable material options.

For the project Duurzame Pleinen ('Sustainable City Squares' in English) Mister Lee made a film / animation (in Dutch). The film explains what professionals –involved in city planning, architectural design and construction– can do to make their projects as sustainable as possible. 

For Duurzame Pleinen 'sustainable' doesn't just mean 'durability', but is mainly focussed on the origin of building materials, namely: have human rights and the environment been taken into account?Mister Lee took this project from concept to production.