Chris Hilton - CEO / Executive Producer
Chris Hilton is one of Australia’s most prolific and award winning factual producer/ directors who has made films across a broad spectrum of subjects for the worlds major broadcasters. Prior to establishing Essential, Chris was the managing director and founding partner of Hilton Cordell Productions, which he ran for seven years.
Chris’ recent Executive Producer credits include: The Real Mary Poppins, Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide, My Brother the Serial Killer, A Traveller’s Guide to the Planets, Miracles, The Voyage of the Courtesans, Seduction in the City, and the 2013 RealScreen Award nominated The Grammar of Happiness.
Chris serves as a Documentary Councillor for Screen Producers Australia and won the 2014 Stanley Hawes Award for his outstanding contribution to the documentary industry in Australia.
Ian Collie - Partner / Head of Scripted
Ian is an experienced drama and factual television producer. His credits include three seasons of the highly acclaimed ABC TV series Rake starring Richard Roxburgh (and Executive Producer on the US version of Rake starring Greg Kinnear), three telemovies based on Peter Temple's Jack Irish book series entitled Bad Debts and Black Tideand Dead Point, starring Guy Pearce; and a further Peter Temple adaptation The Broken Shore. He is the producer and co-creator of the 4 part drama series The Principal. Ian's film producer credits include the 2013 feature Saving Mr Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
His documentary programs include Australia on Trial, Whatever: The Science of Teens, The Making of Modern Australia, Rogue Nation, The Catalpa Rescue, A Case for the Coroner, Art House, The Shadow of Mary Poppins, and The Original Mermaid. He is also a qualified solicitor and former executive director of the Arts Law Centre of Australia and the Australian Directors Guild.
Sonja Armstrong - Partner / Producer
Before embarking on a producing career, co-founder Sonja Armstrong was a corporate banker with Citibank, Melbourne, business affairs and finance director with London based distribution and production company Enterprise Pictures and a development and production executive at the Australian Film Commission. Her credits include the docudramas The Floating Brothel and Seduction in the City; one-offs Helen’s War and The Fortune Teller, and the series Heat in the Kitchen, High Steaks: Neil Perry, Is Your House Killing You?, Lush House, the Gourmet Farmer Series (3), and its spin-off Gourmet Farmer Afloat, Shane Delia’s Spice Journey (series 1 and 2), observational documentary series Kids on Speed? and What’s The Catch? – an investigative campaign series on Australia’s fishing industry. Current titles in production include Gourmet Farmer 4 and a third season of Shane Delia's Moorish Spice Journey .
Carmel Travers - Partner / Head of Kids
Carmel has been writing, producing and directing television shows for more than three decades. She’s also founded and run production companies including Beyond International, Energee Entertainment and Purple Pictures.
Film and television productions created and produced by Carmel include Beyond 2000, Climate In Crisis, Wicked, Crocadoo, Gloria’s House and the feature film, The Magic Pudding. Awarded works include the documentary films Red Flag Over Tibet, Refugee Like Me and Truth, Lies and Intelligence, all written, produced and directed by Carmel.
A former General Manager at Network Ten, Carmel’s been a Director of a number of private and public corporations and has held several Government Board positions.