Cosmopolitan Pictures has joined global content studio The Story Collective, a Fifth Sason backed company, to expand its slate of European projects and build on its relationships with local European talent and commissioners.

Over the last few years, Cosmopolitan’s founder Ben Donald has been building a number of slates tailored to key European territories in their local languages. The company recently released Italian true crime series Per Elisa: il Caso Claps, written by Terry Cafolla and co- produced with local producer Fast Film, which aired  on RAIUno in October 2023.

Cosmopolitan also delivered season 3 of the Spanish crime drama The Mallorca Files which will launch globally on Amazon Prime Video on 8th August, with the streamer also picking up the show’s previous seasons around the world.

With several local European projects in advanced development from a combination of local and British writers and directors, the company will now be able to tap into The Story Collective’s creative, strategic, operational and commercial resources to continue developing and expanding its remit.

The deal reunites Ben Donald with his former colleagues at BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point, Simon Vaughan and Damian Keogh, respectively Co-Chair and CEO of The Story Collective. Between them, they have  co-produced a number of projects and achieved many firsts in scripted International co-production, including Death in Paradise (the first ever Anglo-French scripted co-production, between BBC1 and France 2), Ripper Street (BBC, Amazon), Parade’s End (BBC, HBO and ARTE France), The Collection (BBC, Amazon, France Television), the first ever Anglo-Spanish scripted co-production, The Refugees for AtresMedia, and the first ever Anglo-Polish co-productions Spies of Warsaw (BBC4, TV Poland and ARTE France) and The Passing Bells (BBC1 and TV Poland).

With their combined expertise in crafting complex international co-production deals and recognising the current shift in the market from global deals back to the established co- production model, Donald, Vaughan and Keogh, with the support of co-CEOs Chris Rice and Graham Taylor and the team at Fifth Season, are also focusing efforts on a new initiative to help other companies, producers and talent drive their frontrunner projects over the line. Also part of The Story Collective’s group, Artis Pictures’ Kate Croft joins this initiative and will work with Vaughan on setting up projects with an Anglo-American axis, while Ben Donald will bring his European relationships to the table. Together, they will work to maximize the relevancy, reach, and potential of local and cross-border projects emerging from key territories (US, UK, Europe).

Simon Vaughan and Damian Keogh said: “Ben has been finding European stories and developing and producing brilliant shows with varying degrees of European creative and story elements. He is a longtime colleague and dear friend and we are so excited that he has decided to join our Collective. No-one in Britain knows the key European markets like Ben, and his relationship in each territory is genuine, deep and always focused on the creative. Together we hope to bring distinctive local shows to life and then help them reach audiences beyond their borders.”

Ben Donald said: “I am delighted to join The Story Collective’s group of producers and to team up again with friends and former colleagues. I have always been drawn to European stories, characters and ideas and see a unique opportunity, with an outside eye, to bring these to the screen with the best of British and European talent. It is wonderful to have this particular enthusiasm and passion of mine so encouraged and endorsed by such a great and proven team and backed up by the strong global distribution of Fifth Season.”

Pippa Considine

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