Mark Fennessy’s Helium: Production pioneer launches new business


TV, movies and music – from John Ibrahim drama to top 10 country music act Darlinghurst

TV producer Mark Fennessy has revealed his next move in the entertainment industry – the independent production company Helium. It comes almost a year to the day since Mark and brother Carl Fennessy stepped down as joint CEOs of Endemol Shine Australia.

Helium is being called an independent production label with a primary focus on premium scripted and premium factual.

Helium will create and produce original content for all platforms, networks and mediums.

“It’s great to be back,” Mark Fennessy told Mediaweek. With ambitions to have filmed and audio content across different platforms, he wants to start out boutique, but he’s built enough businesses to realise things can get big quickly out of necessity.

Mark will be working for the first time in many years without his brother Carl alongside. “We are both working on things that inspire us individually. We are both grateful for that and we have worked really hard to give ourselves that option. Our relationship has never been stronger and we talk every second day. Together we built four companies over almost 20 years and it was all-consuming.

The Fennessys steered independent production label Crackerjack before forming FremantleMedia in Australia. They then launched what became the powerhouse production company Shine with Elisabeth Murdoch, later overseeing the merger with Endemol to create Endemol Shine Australia (ESA).

Mark said he and Carl spoke with other people about various roles both collectively and individually after they left ESA. “A lot of people reached out, but we really wanted to make the most of an extended break. We both really felt the need to completely unplug from everything for a while. That was incredibly healthy for both of us.”

Mark Fennessy

Helium is making a 10-episode drama series on John Ibrahim’s autobiography

Helium’s initial slate includes the highly anticipated drama series Last King of The Cross, the John Ibrahim drama series currently in early pre-production for Paramount+ and the feature film 6 Festivals, also for Paramount+. Helium is also in advanced development on the crime thriller series Sex and Thugs and Rock n Roll (a joint venture with Richard Lowenstein and his company Ghost).

Helium funding

The new company comprises Helium Studios, Helium Pictures and Helium Records and is promising to specialise in the creation of innovative, authentic and compelling content, aiming to redefine the boundaries between music and pictures.

“At this stage I am funding the business myself,” said Fennessy in answer to a question about investors. “There are no partners at the moment. The very first person I had to hire was for IT. I have a very young, vibrant team that is full of energy and ideas. There will be appointments and announcements to come. There are no other stakeholders now. I wouldn’t discount that happening in the future.” Fennessy said he was also expecting to expand internationally.

Making music

Helium Records has been going for some time and is having good success with Melbourne country/pop act Darlinghurst who charted this week with their album (above) debuting in the ARIA top 10. The Helium label is distributed through Sebastian Chase’s MGM Distribution.

See also: Mark and Carl Fennessy depart Endemol Shine Australia, Peter Newman takes over

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