New base for radical film-makers

Blake House Cooperative is set for growth having just moved into new premises and taken out a loan from Co-op Loan Fund.

The London-based film-makers have achieved a lot since incorporating in 2015. The worker co-operative, which at one time operated from cafes, libraries and living rooms, has recently moved from a small, temporary office to a large studio in a brand new development for creative practices in Stockwell. Members Ieva Padagaite and Simon Ball have been joined by producer Charlotte England, and together they are planning to increase co-operative membership to half a dozen people over the coming years.

Blake House makes engaging and impactful films for progressive public and third sector organisations as well as other co-ops and campaign groups. They only undertake work for organisations whose values and purposes align with their own. They find that this selective approach is advantageous in strengthening their niche offering and their understanding of the sectors they work in. It helps them to build high quality meaningful relationships with their clients. They have produced videos for Co-operatives UK, the National Trust, Save the Children, University of Cambridge, University College London Hospitals, Global Social Economy Forum, Power to Change, Basildon Council, Compass, The National Education Union and Forum for the Future.

The loan is being used mostly as working capital to make cash flow management smoother as the co-op settles into its new premises and takes on more work.

Ian Rothwell of Co-op Loan Fund said: “We are really pleased to help Blake House move premises and grow. It is great that young people like Simon, Ieva and Charlotte are choosing the co-operative model to further their careers in the creative sector. They make beautiful, thoughtful films.”

Simon explained why they set up as a co-op: “We were feeling disillusioned with our careers and so we tried to imagine our dream work environment. It was a place where there was no hierarchy, where we produced work that aligned with our values, where we could be creative and where everyone’s work was valued and respected. A place where we were in control. We found that our dream already existed and it was a worker co-op.

“We set up the business using our own savings and resources and favours from friends. We were nervous about taking on long term liabilities and for the first two years the business was based in several temporary workspaces. Now we can see that we need cash so that we can grow. We want to work with more organisations and we also plan to create our own self-commissioned content.”

Simon is full of praise for Co-op Loan Fund: “It has made a big difference to our attitude to loan finance to know that we are borrowing from an organisation that understands co-ops. Having a shared ethos with our lender have made us feel comfortable about borrowing.”

Film made for Co-operatives UK