A flair for the good story combined with business acumen out of the ordinary is the recipe for 25 years of success in the Danish film and TV industry.
RYESGADE, COPENHAGEN – Cosmo Film is the story of two friends, who – immediately following their graduation from the National Film School of Denmark – set up themselves as film producers with their own production company. This year, the company celebrated 25 years as a trendsetting player in the film industry.
Any startup would agree that success doesn’t come easy when you as an indomitable rookie get into an infight with an established industry. The team of Rasmus Thorsen and Tomas Hostrup-Larsen, however, quickly demonstrated that they possessed a unique combination of business insight and film-making craftmanship in a class of its own. A cocktail that has provided stamina and can almost be attributed with kickstarting a rebirth of the Danish film industry. In an epicenter of progressive film-makers at the offices in Ryesgade 106 – where Nimbus Film and Zentropa were also located – these two friends started producing documentary films, corporate films and short subject films. They are still located at this address, though the profile has today been tightened up to solely producing television drama. A move made from the realization that it requires a very high degree of specialization if you want to be a market leader. And that is what Cosmo wants. “Cosmo Film has had a considerable significance for Danish television series production outside of DR (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation),” says head of fiction at TV 2, Katrine Vogelsang. “We consider Cosmo an important and wonderful – and proud – collaboration partner.”
Business mindset from day one
“Our productions become commercial successes because the fundamental idea is good, not because we’re chasing commercial success,” is the analysis from Tomas, who is the company’s strategic director and owner/partner. “It’s all about being good at gathering a team behind the production and then creating the proper setting for progress – both creatively and structurally – or not a damn thing is going to happen,” adds Rasmus, creative director and the other half of the partnership. A formula for success that has over the years become an ingrained part of Cosmo Film’s DNA. “There are people that create stories we talk about around the dinner table and who are behind our biggest cultural experiences. Those kinds of people are the ones at Cosmo, who have a unique ability to simultaneously challenge while also offering the audience exactly what they want,” is Elin Kvist’s guess as to why Cosmo Films has success in Sweden, where she is an executive producer at Swedish TV4.
And successes in the form of films, television series and not least Christmas miniseries that resonate with the general public is something Cosmo has plenty of on its resume. Anna Pihl, Midsummer, Christmas in Valhalla, Jesus and Josefine, Park Road, Tinka’s Christmas Adventure and most recently the thriller drama Greyzone that has aroused international interest – from Iceland to Korea, from Australia to Africa. In total, it has amounted to 173 episodes across nine different series – 100 hours of primetime television drama! “Cosmo goes all in on the projects they believe in, even when faced with opposition and the finish line is far off on the horizon,” says Peter Naderman, CEO of Nadcon Film in German and a co-producer over many years. “It is an honor to work with such passionate and dedicated personalities as Rasmus and Tomas.”
A unique and familiar environment
The very special attitude that permeates the company isn’t just about running the company and having an eye for the good story. There is a highly respected, almost magical vibe, which receives the thumbs up no matter who you ask in the company’s impressively large network of collaborating partners, both at home and abroad. “Cosmo’s hallmark is sky-high ambitions and the integrity to realize them,” says lead actress in Greyzone, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen. “They have faith in their employees and care about me as a colleague and fellow human being. You couldn’t wish for a better workplace.” On the other side of the camera, the Swedish screenwriter behind Greyzone, Oskar Söderlund, has made similar observations: “Tomas and Rasmus master the delicate balancing act of creating an almost familiar setting around a production without it at any point becoming unprofessional. That is quite unique.”
Willing to adapt in an uncertain industry
Uncertainty is one of the basic conditions in the film-making world. As such, it has always been part of Cosmo’s DNA to not be motivated by grand long-term plans and cost-intensive permanent employments. This makes them agile, while the uncertainty keeps them on edge. It’s about having the courage to pursue the opportunities that arise. A strategy they have no intention of changing. “It’s as if we were building the plane ourselves while flying. And we’re still flying onwards,” Rasmus says in closing.