Stellify Media is launching a scripted division after renewing its current terms with parent company Sony Pictures Television.
The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? indie is targeting long-running, low-cost, high-volume series, specifically close-ended, ‘story of the week’ crime dramas, which founders and co-managing directors Kieran Doherty and Matt Worthy hope will “sell internationally”.
The duo are hoping to emulate Mike Benson’s Chalkboard TV and Studio Lambert which have successfully branched out into drama from their unscripted roots.
Doherty said he is also taking inspiration from Irish shows including Blood, produced by Company Pictures and West Road Pictures, and New Pictures’ The Deceived.
Stellify plans to hire a dedicated exec to manage the division with Doherty and Worthy also preparing to exec projects. The company is also preparing a scripted initiative to help grow the division, with further details expected soon.
The move into drama has been boosted by the Belfast-based indie’s decision to extend its deal with SPT into a “long-term”, multi-year commitment, having set up as a joint-venture in 2014.
It comes following a successful 12 months for Stellify. Earlier this year, the producer hit the top 50 in Broadcast’s Indie Survey, growing its turnover to £15m, a 500%-plus increase and the second highest growth of companies surveyed.
Besides its reboot of ITV classic gameshow Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which was the inspiration for Left Bank Pictures’ drama Quiz, the company has secured Netflix physical gameshow Flinch, and was also one of the indies to win a Channel 4 lockdown commission with canine-themed reality format Celebrity Snoop Dogs.
Broadcast understands the SPT renewal comes as Stellify was attracting interest from suitors regarding its future plans. Doherty and Worthy told Broadcast they were keen to stay part of the Sony family due to the consistent support and help they had received over the past six years, particularly from president of international production, Wayne Garvie.
“We could not be prouder of Matthew, Kieran and the team at Stellify. To have built the biggest nations indie in such a short period is really remarkable,” Garvie told Broadcast. “They’ve done it by both revising rather brilliantly classic formats like Millionaire and Blind Date and by creating highly original and quirky ideas of their own.
“Their nimbleness, speed and effectiveness was shown when they devised, sold and made the infamous Celebrity Snoop Dogs in the midst of a national lockdown.
“Everyone at Sony is overjoyed they are staying with us and ready to support their push into scripted.”