‘Chivalry’ Producer Richard Johns Launches Argo Films With John Travolta Disney+ Short ‘The Shepherd’
British producer Richard Johns has launched a new label, Argo Films.
Johns is best known for the 2000 Oscar-nominated indie horror film The Shadow of a Vampire and several other films, debuts with a number of projects and The shepherda completed short film for Disney+.
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The shepherdstarring John Travolta and Ben Radcliffe, is based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth and followed the story of a pilot who flies home solo for Christmas in 1957. Iain Softley (Backbeat, hackers) wrote and directed, and Alfonso Cuarón and Bill Kenwright are co-producers.
Argo will also house scripted assets and development projects from Corona Pictures and Corona Television, the businesses Johns established with Rupert Jermyn in 2009 that produced teen horror Truth or Dare and Tim Roth star Responsibility and whose TV arm received investment from Fremantle. Johns bought Jermyn’s share of the assets when the latter left the business in 2019.
The projects include several named international drama co-productions, some of which have network support. Television projects include a “landmark drama”; a limited series about family and identity, based on real events; and an original drama series from screenwriter Daniel Hayes (vs.) which follows “a young woman, an outsider, struggling to decide which tribe she most aligns with in life.” Features include a new work from director E. Elias Merhige.
Johns is best known for feature films, but recently returned to television production, where he began his producing career, as line producer for the Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani Channel 4 comedy-drama Chivalry. Most Argo projects will be aimed at television, but the company laments that it is taking “a media-agnostic position for projects at the beginning, first figuring out how best to tell the story.”
“Argo is about taking risks,” Johns said. “There’s plenty of safe stuff out there already, and it’s not me: I’m passionate about making ‘cinematic TV’ that breaks new ground. Argo will always be authentic, distinctive and diverse in every sense of the word – successfully crossing conventional limits. I also have a soft spot for finely crafted limited series, so expect to see a number of these in future announcements.”
Johns plans to work with UK talent in regions – the areas of the UK outside London – and said he was “on a mission to find and nurture new voices that can help create surprising, original content.”
His television career began in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, establishing Pilgrim Films. It was one of the UK’s first indies, producing commercials and scripted and unscripted programming for the Tyne Tees, Yorkshire TV and Granada franchises. He later teamed up with Bharat Nalluri and Neil Marshall to produce his first feature film, Killing Timeand was recently supervising producer for Bill Kenwright’s Off the Railsstarring Dame Judi Dench, Kelly Preston and Ben Miller.
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