Home Entertainment The Story Collective Invests In Cosmopolitan Pictures

The Story Collective Invests In Cosmopolitan Pictures

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EXCLUSIVE: Fifth Season-backed The Story Collective (TSC) has taken a 25% stake in The Mallorca Files co-producer Cosmopolitan Pictures, which has ambitions to be a “European hub” for projects that can traverse borders, its boss has said.

Cosmopolitan is run by Ben Donald, a former colleague of TSC founders Damian Keogh, Simon Vaughan and Helen Jackson from their BBC Studios tenure, and has quietly made a name for itself in recent years backing drama projects that punch above their weight across Europe. It is probably best known for The Mallorca Files, which it makes with Baby Reindeer producer Clerkenwell Films and is about to launch its third season on Prime Video, along with Rai’s Per Elisa: il Caso Claps, which scooped the grand prize at the recent AVPSummit.

The company has projects in development with French, German, Italian and Scandinavian buyers, and is developing a pair of series in France based on Vanity Fair articles.

“The idea is to be a bit of a European hub,” said Donald. “We have projects in various stages of development but it’s safe to say I had put that instinct on hold over the last few years because I needed to find someone from the outside to tell me to believe in them.”

The TSC deal sees Fifth Season become Cosmopolitan’s first look distributor, although BBC Studios retains an interest in some titles including The Mallorca Files. The London-based outfit will share back office with TSC and be given production, editorial and business affairs support. It joins Longboat Pictures, Artis Pictures, Maia Pictures and the recently-formed Mighty Pebble Pictures as Fifth Season-backed TSC’s investees.

“The relationship is unbelievably wholehearted,” Keogh told Deadline. “We are not like a distributor with a bit of cash waving you off – we’re built to be helpful and good partners.”

Border-crossing “initiative”

L to R: Donald, Keogh, Jackson, Vaughan

For TSC, the investment will supercharge a “new initiative to help other companies, producers and talent drive their frontrunner projects over the line,” an initiative that has secured the backing of Fifth Season bosses Chris Rice and Graham Taylor, which will focus on cross-border shows traversing the UK, Europe and the U.S.

Within the initiative, Artis boss Kate Croft will work with TSC founder Vaughan on setting up projects with an Anglo-American axis, while Donald will bring European relationships to the table.

Keogh cited cross-border success stories such as Lupin and Das Boot but said the market is “quite distressed at present,” which is where experienced funders like TSC come in.

“The walls [between geographical borders for projects] have broken down but what has not broken down is the drive to be authentic,” Keogh went on to say. “The quality has got higher but rules around collaboration have been broken and busted, and there are some brilliant and hugely enjoyable shows out there.”

With this in mind, he said TSC-backed shows will be developed in different languages, citing that Cosmopolitan’s Vanity Fair projects are being plotted in French, for example.

“In the old days you would either say, ‘Interesting Vanity fair article let’s make it in English’ or just, ‘Let’s leave it to the French,’ but now there are brilliant things coming out of these unions,” he added. “Ben [Donald] is one of the only people who can pull these off.”

Donald said the “outside eye can sometimes see something a local community cannot.”

“That outside perspective is proving to be a huge part of why this initiative seems to be working,” he added. “I won’t filter myself and say, ‘I’m a British producer who has to develop for the English language’.”

TSC is also co-producing Steven Knight boxing series A Thousand Blows for Disney+ and recently unveiled a TV and film studio in London.



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