Juliet Howell and Tessa Ross on the creation of House Productions

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iron claw

Unique: Tessa Ross and Juliet Howell don’t do publicity, and when the two welcomed Deadline to their London office in early February, it was the first interview they’d given about House Productions since they founded the film and TV outfit nearly seven years ago. Was established.

area of ​​interest And iron claw UK movie theaters serve as a timely reminder of the company’s film credits, which have been built brick by brick as we speak. The second season of James Graham’s drama series sherwood The show will drop in the coming months at the BBC and the House principals are back from LA as they line up US partners for new projects.

The works include a drama series about the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, a TV adaptation of the musical Kathy and Stella solve a murder mystery, and an early stage project with Nkuti Gatwa. The film is an adaptation of the Eimear McBride novel, and a star cast will be announced soon The Semplica Girl Diaries, Richard Ayoade is starring and will direct the latter from a script written with George Saunders, and Cornerstone is handling sales.

Zac Efron on attack in ‘The Iron Claw’

a 24

The current slate is diverse. In terms of film, it includes genre pieces and the Matt Smith-starrer to remain hungry For Andrea Arnold’s highly anticipated film BirdAbout which very little is known, but which will be ready at the end of this year. In TV, the slate includes such variety as the Italian-language Mafioso drama good mothers and British political drama Brexit: uncivil war,

The main thing is that each has a clear voice, and the impression of the writer or director can be seen and heard. “So we think we can do things differently, it’s about the creative, it’s about the writer and authorship,” Howell says. “It is because of that sanctity and that voice being preserved at the right size and on the right platform that we have conducted the House the way we have.”

Ross is the former head of Film4 and Howell used to run TV at Working Title, so you’d expect him to be well connected. A recurring theme for them is the power of relationships, shown by the fact that the company often works with business partners and creatives on a repeat basis. Each film has a set of partners, and features like A24, Cornerstone and FilmNation are all present. Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, run by former BBC TV boss Danny Cohen, bankrolled development in exchange for the first glimpse of House’s film slate: Sebastian Lelio. Wonderjonathan glazer area of ​​interestsean durkin’s iron claw and the upcoming Edward Berger film conclave All benefited from Access Industries’ rolling development fund.

Film and TV are very different businesses, but the approach for House to find, support and engage with projects is similar in both. “What you learn in the independent film business is that if you develop something that you believe in and you can get some kind of foundation to start your project on, you can get people to come to your To bring it together can sustain it for a long time. You,” says Ross. “And there’s an analogy in television, building something you believe in, finding the core, and then finding partners who You can get around it.”

sherwood

Left to right: David Morrissey, Lesley Manville and Robert Glenister in ‘Sherwood’

House Productions

On paper, Howell looks like a TV boss and Ross House a movie boss in the mix, but the reality is that, after working together in various guises for nearly 30 years, they live in each other’s worlds. This means that the projects coming through the front door of the House can fit into a form rather than being squeezed into a feature or stretched into a series. stephan bouchard’s good mothers, which House created with Italy’s Wildside for Disney+ and received the Berlinale Series Award, was a project that was initially conceived as a film, but ultimately required expanding into a series. “It’s hard to make anything good and it’s hard to make anything great,” Ross says. “So, making it the right way, in the right shape, is the most important thing.”

Wildside and House are also partners conclave, an adaptation of Robert Harris’s novel about the papal succession, directed by Berger. This is the German writer-director’s first film after winning multiple Oscars last year All Quiet on the Western Front, Speaking on the topic of continuing relationships, Bouchard, House and Wildside are working together again, this time on a drama-based story of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which crashed in 2012, resulting in the death of 34 people. Had died. Italian journalist Pablo Trincia’s podcast about the disaster was the starting point for the project and Bouchard has written the first episode, which the house is taking to market.

take up residence

Supporting new writers is also a priority. Residency is the name the House gives its program for writers, many of whom have theater backgrounds, who want to work in TV or film. “You need to be surrounded by people who have the hunger to take you into the future,” Howell says. “It’s especially helpful for young writers to sit down with other writers, share ideas with each other, and with mentors.” Maybe…it happens more in theater than television.”

Playwright, poet and screenwriter Sabrina Mahfouz was a part of the program and continued to be a part of it beef The Writer’s Room, and House is now developing a project with him. John Brittain, whose murder-mystery musical drama Kathy and Kim solve a murder mystery Relocating to London’s West End was also part of the residence. House has a script commission from a UK broadcaster for a TV adaptation of that play.

With the House’s founders frequently referencing the stage in conversation, it is perhaps not surprising that Ross was Chief Executive of the National Theater between 2014–15. “It’s part of my career and we’re developing some plays,” she explains. “Sometimes the right thing is to find a live version of the story.”

good mothers

good mothers

disney

When the House founders spoke to Deadline they were between US tours and a partner there involved in a major drama featuring big-name talent. They won’t give away details, but there will be more information about this secret project soon, with key parts in the US and UK.

They are happy to announce that Nkuti Gatwa is currently playing the role of Doctor am a doctorThere is an exciting project in development, inspired by a thriller stranger on the train and established in Sitges, Spain. House has a script that is currently being fleshed out. Other TV projects include The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastlewhich was with Netflix but is now back on the market, with Sarah Quintrell adapting the Stuart Turton novel for new partners.

In film, House is working with Irish novelist Eimear McBride on her first feature, based on his second novel little bohemians, House Toppers also teases projects with a roster of esteemed writers and directors, including a film with Yann Demange. ’71 Director with whom Ross worked on Film4 and who is currently directing the upcoming Marvel film blade Reimagining starring Mahershala Ali.

The indie head talks about having “a building full of smart people coming in and out of it.” The London office on Clerkenwell is, appropriately, a home. It feels more casual than corporate. Moving out of the capital, House North was launched last year under the leadership of Louise Sutton, which will develop a slate from its Manchester base. Howell and Ross want the new division to be “a place to support his relationships, his tastes” and give him comedy chops that will bring a different flavor to the type of show featured on House’s books.

It’s great to be a producer and take the creative lead, but all producers are having to adapt to an uncertain film and TV market. The challenges facing the independent film business are not news. However, the decline in TV commissioning is a recent reality. A streamer-fueled boom is over, and the industry is filled with stories of premium scripted projects that can’t get out of the starting blocks.

“This is undoubtedly a difficult moment,” Howell admits. “But you have to stay positive. It’s about trust – and these things often go in cycles, it won’t always be like this. If you’re committed and love what you do and who you’re working with, those things will happen. They may not be in six months’ time, they may be in a year’s time, but we are in it for the long term.

The company has the insurance of being backed by BBC Studios, which has increased its stake to 25% for full control in 2021. Ross and Howell want to grow the team and broaden the depth. “As you know the middle is pushed to either end, you can either make it smaller or bigger [projects],’ says Ross. “The reason to build smaller is so you can bring in new talent, the reason to build bigger is to retain the talent you’re excited about and have worked with before.”

House builders acknowledge that their ambitions to nurture new talent and continue working with established names require scale. If the family of writers, directors, production partners and talent continues to grow as they plan, they may need a larger home.

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