Argonon expands with Hat Trick’s ex-head of factual for new indie Studio Leo

Claire Collinson-Jones

US- and UK-based production group Argonon is expanding its indie roster by launching a new factual formats-focused firm, which will be led by former Hat Trick Productions exec Claire Collinson-Jones.

Studio Leo will be based out of London and will produce popular factual content for broadcasters, both as standalone projects and collaborations across the group.

Commission bow

Collinson-Jones will become Chief Creative Officer at the firm, which has already struck its first commission, with 101 Years Of Tesco, a 3 x 60-minute series for ViacomCBS-owned Channel 5. The show tells the story of the retail giant’s rise, from a market stall to the supermarket giant of today.

Collinson-Jones had been with Hat Trick for almost a decade, with roles including head of factual & formats and executive producer. She created long-running C5 format Rich House, Poor House, and was also behind nine season of returning format Dinner Date for ITV and Lost And Found for Channel 4.

James Burstall

Studio Leo’s first commission is executive produced by Collinson-Jones and has been commissioned by C5 commissioning editor Denise Seneviratne.

‘Growth path’ plans

The prodco’s launch is the latest in a series of moves by Argonon as it looks to grow following the COVID-19 crisis.

It recently unveiled the launch of Argonon USA, the appointment of a new chief creative officer at Leopard USA, and the opening of a West Coast office, with plans to explore acquisition opportunities in the country.

The company also acquired branded content business Nemorin Film & Video in December, whose clients range from Credit Suisse to McDonald’s.

James Burstall, Argonon CEO, said: “Leopards have always thrived in the engine of Argonon. Claire’s idea to create a new factual formats studio at the heart of the group just felt right. She is a gifted exec and is drawing together the strong heritage of the Leopard brand with a fresh new attitude.

“She is also helping us further converge our group with inter-company co-productions across UK and US, genres and brands. Talent is king at Argonon and we are delighted Claire has joined us.”

Collinson-Jones added: “As a truly independent group, Argonon offers both the creative freedom to develop a slate of popular factual series and exciting collaboration possibilities on both sides of the Atlantic. Studio Leo has a diverse range of ideas in development from documentaries to features, purpose-driven formats and factual entertainment. I’m looking forward to creating innovative, engaging content for broadcasters, networks and platforms.”

Argonon, whose former prodco Barefaced TV was acquired by Scottish broadcaster STV last year, is home to production companies including: House Hunters International firm Leopard USA; Bandicoot, which produces the UK’s Masked Singer for ITV; Worzel prodco Leopard Pictures and factual-skewing BriteSpark Films. The group also includes Windfall Films, Like A Shot, and the recently acquired Nemorin Film & Video.

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