After 'Losing Nemo'

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.