Tessa Ross, the uber-successful former head of Channel4’s movie-arm Film4, and Juliette Howell, the former head of television at Working Title, have set up a film and TV production company, House Productions, with the backing of the BBC’s international distribution arm, BBC Worldwide, and Access Entertainment, part of billionaire Len Blavatnik’s business empire.
House Productions will be based in London with Ross and Howell as joint CEOs, working across the company’s slate of television and feature films. BBC Worldwide has taken a 25% stake in the company, and will act as the global distributor for its TV slate. Access Entertainment, which is headed by the BBC’s former director of television, Danny Cohen, has agreed to a first-look deal to develop and finance feature films with House. In addition, House will receive additional investment from New York-based investor Laura Sloate.
Ross was controller of film and drama at Channel 4, and as Film4’s boss backed a host of award-winning films, including BAFTA winners “Four Lions,” “This is England” and “In Bruges,” and best picture Oscar winners “Slumdog Millionaire” and “12 Years a Slave.” She left the broadcaster at the end of 2014, where her most recent commissions included Oscar winners “Room” and “Ex Machina,” and Oscar nominees “Carol” and “45 Years.”
Ross said: “We’re going to build a creative and supportive home at House Productions and look forward to growing something unique and long lasting with both new and old collaborators.”
Howell stepped down last year after five years as Working Title’s head of television, having established the British production arm in 2010, and overseen a raft of acclaimed drama series, films and comedy. These include BAFTA winners “London Spy” and “Birdsong” for the BBC, the BBC/HBO film “Mary and Martha,” and Sky’s hit comedy series “Yonderland,” currently in production on its third season. Howell also oversaw “You, Me and the Apocalypse,” which aired on Sky/NBC.
Howell said: “Along with our partners, Tessa and I share a vision for the company where the flow of ideas and creative talent between film and television can achieve the best and most ambitious work. House Productions will be the home of original, exciting stories, a place where ideas can be nurtured and produced in a supportive environment.”
Following her departure from Film4, Ross served as chief executive of the National Theater, but resigned after only six months in the role. Explaining her decision to step down, Ross said at the time: “It has become clear to me that the new leadership structure, with a separate role of chief executive, is not right for the NT at this time.”