Former Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks and Endemol Shine Australia co-founder Carl Fennessy have a launched full-service production and distribution studio with the backing of Endeavor Content.
Based in Sydney, Dreamchaser will aim to establish partnerships across scripted, factual and entertainment genres, with a focus on driving global projects.
Speaking to IF, Marks said they wanted to “enable creativity” by building the infrastructure necessary to tap into the international content market.
“We’re effectively open for business to potential creative partners who may see Dreamchaser as the perfect place to realise their big ambition on that global content stage, so it’s an exciting time for us with lots of work to do and lots to do yet,” he said.
“The next phase for us will be really sorting out who those creative partners are going to be and announcing them over the next two or three months.”
Fennessy said what differentiated the studio was that all its relationships with producers would be on a partnership basis.
“We’re not simply employing people and asking them to come in and produce work that we might we perhaps might have developed or sold,” he said.
“We’re really asking them to come in, so we can invest in them and help them creatively push their own boundaries and limits to try and create work that we can take to the international stage together.”
Fennessy brings nearly three decades of production experience to the venture, having launched his first production company, Crackerjack, with brother Mark in 1993.
After selling the company to FremantleMedia in 2006, the pair went on to merge Crackerjack with Grundy Television to form FremantleMedia Australia, where Carl served as COO until 2009, overseeing development programs such as MasterChef Australia, Neighbours, and Australian Idol.
In 2010, the brothers joined forces with Elisabeth Murdoch to launch Shine Australia where Carl and Mark served as joint-CEOs, leading the company through its merger 2015 merger with Endemol. Following the Banijay acquisition of Endemol, the brothers stepped down from their roles as joint CEOs in September 2020. Mark Fennessy has since launched production company Helium.
Marks is known for his five-year tenure as CEO of Nine Entertainment, during which time he steered the company through a process of diversification, including the merger with Fairfax Media. Since his resignation at the end of 2020, he has served as a consultant for both Tennis Australia and the NRL.
Prior to his CEO role with Nine, Marks owned RGM Artists, and was CEO of the Southern Star Group for seven years.
Joining the executives in Dreamchaser chief operating officer Sara Horn, chief financial officer Megan Rees-Williams, and head of development Monique Keller.
Horn and Rees-Williams were both previously at Endemol Shine Australia, with the former serving as the managing director of production and operations. Keller joins Dreamchaser from Fremantle Australia, where she worked as a development executive across factual and scripted projects.
Fennessy said while he and Marks had been working on the venture “in a serious fashion” for the past six to nine months, the idea went back a lot further.
“Hugh and I have known each other and worked in the same circles for a long period of time and always had great respect for one another,” he said.
“We have sort of talked off and on about this over about the opportunity to build a genuine Australian studio Content Studio for probably five plus years now, so it’s not altogether new to Hugh and me.
“But given that we both stepped down from our respective roles in the last 12 months, the time is right now for us both and obviously we feel it is the right time in the international content marketplace as well.”
In Endeavor, they have a backer that works across creation, production and distribution, with a presence in the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the Asia Pacific, including an office in Sydney.
The company has previously launched Blink Studios in Canada and The Story Company in the UK, the latter of which Fennessy said is not dissimilar to Dreamchaser.
“They are almost like a boutique global studio network, where we can really help Australian producers either finance and produce work either directly into the US whether that be with a UK co-production or a Canadian co-production,” he said.
“There are sort of no rules anymore about where a creator can have their show commissioned and produced and I think Endeavor really helps us in that in that space.”
Endeavor Co-CEOs Chris Rice and Graham Taylor said the company was excited at the prospect of Australia’s “flourishing creative and production communities” being harnessed through Dreamchaser.
In the coming months, Dreamchaser will announce a number of new projects, as well as first-look and multi-title picture deals with Australian creatives.