Liza Marshall and Kris Thykier talk to Andreas Wiseman about teaming up for their fledgling film and TV company, Archery Pictures.

Newly minted UK production company Archery Pictures combines two of the UK’s most prominent film producers: former Scott Free UK head Liza Marshall and former PeaPie Films boss Kris Thykier.

Former Channel 4 and BBC TV executive Marshall became head of Ridley Scott’s outfit, Scott Free UK, four-and-a-half years ago. While there she produced features including Before I Go To Sleep starring Nicole Kidman, Welcome To The Punch with James McAvoy, and the upcoming Get Santa starring Jim Broadbent, as well as TV projects such as BBC2’s Britain In A Day and upcoming big-budget BBC1 drama Taboo starring Tom Hardy.

‘We want to create a home for talent where they feel supported and they have a fair share of profits’

Liza Marshall, Archery Pictures

One-time PR executive Thykier is well versed in producer partnerships having previously partnered with Matthew Vaughn at MARV Films, where the duo produced the likes of Stardust, Kick-Ass, Harry Brown and The Debt.

Since leaving MARV to set up PeaPie, Thykier has gone on to produce Madonna’s W.E., Working Title’s I Give It A Year, Stephen Daldry’s Trash, Simon Curtis’s Woman In Gold, and The Weinstein Company’s Bradley Cooper-starrer Adam Jones, on which Thykier is an executive producer.

He has Kasper Barfoed’s football drama Summer Of ‘92 in post-production, while Asif Kapadia’s Ali And Nino is scheduled to shoot in February 2015.

The London-based film and TV outfit, launched last month, was born out of Thykier and Marshall’s mutual desire for new beginnings and partnership.

“Kris and I got to talking and we thought it would be more productive and fun together than to work on our own,” says Marshall. “We will be able to achieve twice as much.”

Marshall’s departure coincided with speculation that she was a leading candidate to become the head of Film4.

“Over the years I’ve been approached about a few different jobs and when that happens you start thinking about what you really want to do,” she says. “What I really wanted to do was be my own boss and create my own destiny.”

Thykier adds: “To create a production business it became clear to me that I needed a partner. I’ve worked previously in successful partnerships so it felt natural to me.”

Choosing to collaborate

Going forward, Marshall and Thykier will be looking to build on their existing relationships and add new ones. “I’m fortunate to say there isn’t anyone I wouldn’t want to collaborate with again,” says Thykier.

He adds: “I’m always looking for new people to work with. Liza and I both see the value in making sure talent who come to work with us have a shared ownership and partnership on projects so are incentivised to work with us. We’re quite open to that.”

Among projects in development are two with former Working Title production executive Debra Hayward, who herself recently set up Monumental Pictures with former Ruby Films executive Alison Owen.

‘To create a production business it became clear to me that I needed a partner… It felt natural to me’

Kris Thykier, Archery Pictures

“I’ve known Debra all my working life so I’m sure we’ll be trying to find our own slates and our own directions but there’s no competition,” Thykier says with a laugh.

With Channel 4 and director Peter Kosminsky, Archery is developing a TV drama exploring the reasons why UK-born Muslims are joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

“I’ve spent 20 years working with scripts as a script editor and then producer so I’ve had very close relationships with writers and directors,” adds Marshall. “We want to create a home for talent where they feel supported and they have a fair share of profits, so that it’s somewhere we can create a great environment for people to do their best work.”

The company will look to raise finance through traditional revenue streams and has some support from private investment. The duo is already in discussions with US television executives about taking on inward investment series in the UK.

“I don’t think a producer-for-hire model is a sustainable business proposition on its own,” says Thykier. “But you can turn that model into a business by hiring excellent staff. You can be a production house for American studios and international studios who want to be in the UK market and you can be involved creatively and build relationships with studios.”

Key executives at Archery will include financial controller Neil Chaplin, senior development and production executive Pip Williams, head of physical production Mairi Bett and development executive Kitty Kaletsky.

The duo are upbeat about the current production landscape in the UK, which they see as having a unique advantage over many other international markets, both financially and creatively. “I do think there’s a new wave of players coming to market looking for scripted product,” says Thykier.

“And the UK does have a great advantage in the shape of its strong literary and theatrical traditions. That number of good writers gives us a serious competitive advantage.”

Liza Marshall

  • 2009-14 Scott Free UK, head of film and TV
  • 2004-09 Channel 4, head of drama

Kris Thykier

  • 2009-14 PeaPie Films, CEO
  • 2007-09 MARV Films, joint MD
  • 1992-2007 Freud Communications, rising to vice-chairman