Indie film producer Richard Johns has launched a new scripted TV and film indie, Argo Films.

Johns’ credits include Shadow of a Vampire (John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe), Like Minds (Toni Collette, Eddie Redmayne) and The Liability (Tim Roth, Jack O’Connell).

Argo Films launches with a “healthy slate” of TV series and feature films in development, “including several international drama co-productions, some paid for by broadcasters.” Scripted TV projects include a “landmark” drama, a limited series about family and identity, based on real events; and an original dramedy series from screenwriter Daniel Hayes (Vs.) that “follows a young woman, an outsider, struggling to decide which tribe she most aligns with in life.” Features in the pipeline include a “major new work” from film director E. Elias Merhige.

Johns has recently completed a short film for Disney+ under the Argo Films banner. The Shepherd, starring John Travolta and Ben Radcliffe (Anatomy of a Scandal), is based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth and tells a “thrilling and dramatic” story about a pilot flying home solo for Christmas in 1957. Iain Softley (Backbeat, Hackers) wrote and directed, and Alfonso Cuarón and Bill Kenwright are co-producers.

Most of Argo’s current projects are destined for television – where Johns started his production career and recently returned as line producer for Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani’s Channel 4 dramedy Chivalry.

Richard Johns, Argo Films’ founder and CEO comments: “It’s truly exciting to officially announce the launch of Argo Films, especially as the projects already well underway speak volumes about my ambition for the company, and the amazing creative collaborators I am so lucky to work with every day. Argo is about taking risks. There’s plenty of safe stuff out there already and that’s not me: I am passionate about creating ‘filmic TV’ that breaks new ground. Argo will always be authentic, distinctive, and diverse in every sense of the word – successfully crossing conventional boundaries. I also have a soft spot for finely crafted limited series, so expect to see a number of these in future announcements!”

Johns continues: “I’ve worked all over the world on numerous big international projects, but the wealth of talent we have in the UK, especially tucked away in the regions, is incredible. With Argo, I am on a mission to find and nurture new voices who can help create surprising, original content, and I’m diving deep into the regions on my quest. Rural areas, in particular, are always overlooked, and I am excited to have already identified fresh new writers with unique perspectives on my home turf in East Anglia.”

Argo Films will now be home to the scripted assets and development projects from Corona Pictures and Corona Television, the businesses Richard Johns established with Rupert Jermyn in 2009. The film company produced teen horror Truth or Dare and The Liability and the TV company received investment from Fremantle. Johns purchased Jermyn’s share of the assets when the latter left the industry.

Richard Johns started his career in TV in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, establishing Pilgrim Films. One of the UK’s first indies, it produced commercials and scripted and unscripted programming for the Tyne Tees, Yorkshire TV and Granada franchises. Johns then teamed up with Bharat Nalluri and Neil Marshall to produce his first feature film, Killing Time, starring Craig Fairbrass. His next film, Downtime, also with Nalluri as director, was made for Channel 4 Films, Scala and Ima Films and received international acclaim. It featured Paul McGann, Susan Lynch and Tom Georgeson. Most Recently, he was supervising producer for Bill Kenwright’s Off the Rails, starring Dame Judi Dench, Kelly Preston and Ben Miller.


Jon Creamer

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