Red Sanders remembers what it was like to office in a coworking space.
When the Red Productions president started his film company about 12 years ago, Sanders found a home for his startup at TECH Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, located inside the former James E. Guinn school campus off Interstate 35.
As Red Productions’ number of film projects and clientele grew, Sanders eventually moved his company to where it is today, an approximately 3,400-square-foot space at 1075 Foch St.
But Sanders said Red Productions didn’t want to keep the space just for themselves. He remembers what TECH Fort Worth did for him, and he wanted to do the same for others. So about four years ago, Sanders got an idea.
“We work in such a collaborative industry as it is,” he said. “There are so many different creatives and creative partners and subcontractors we work with, that we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a space where we can work under the same roof?’ And everyone could be doing their own different projects. They’re separate businesses, but at the same time, there’s a creative collective to the culture here.”
That’s when Backlot was born – a coworking space made specifically for those working in the creative industry, complete with a studio and audio/voiceover booth. About 1,600 square feet of Red Productions’ office is dedicated to Backlot members, who can rent out the space for between $150-$475 per month, depending on their level of membership. The studio and audio booth are available for single day use as well, and members can rent some of Red Productions’ equipment at a discounted rate.
Red Productions sometimes uses the space for its own shoots as well. Sanders says it’s a throwback to the Old Hollywood days of shooting on a studio backlot.
“That’s why we picked that name,” Sanders said. “It’s kind of our studio backlot back here. It’s fun that we’re on the backside of Foch anyway.”
The entire space is designed with an industrial vibe, using wood and recycled metal from a nearby scrapyard, to keep in line with the warehouse feel of the area, Sanders said. Touches of black and bright red, reflective of the company’s logo and color scheme, are found throughout the office.
Building the office was a family affair. Sanders’ mother, artist and designer Janie Cavender, came up with the design concept. Cavender’s husband owns a construction company, Cavender Creations, which helped build the space. The walls of the office are decorated with some of Cavender’s art, as well as nods to filmmaking with posters of old movies like Ghostbusters and Spaceballs. Sanders said the idea was to create a “free flowing” atmosphere that fostered creativity.
The two main areas sectioned off for Backlot are an upstairs loft and a community workspace adjacent to Red Productions’ main office space. To get to the loft, one has to climb a steep flight of stairs leading up to a balcony that overlooks the rest of the office. The balcony can serve as a meeting space with a conference table and bright red glass dry erase board made by Fort Worth company Clarus Glassboards. Next to the conference area is an enclosed private space with desks and couches, along with a foosball table in case someone needs a break from work.
Downstairs is the community workspace, separated from Red Productions’ main office by a sliding wood door. This space is a collaborative area with open concept desks, tables and couches for meetings. On the days when a client needs to shoot, the room can be cleared and transformed into an approximately 800-square-foot soundstage. Sound dampening panels help cut down the echo in the room, which makes for an ideal shooting space, Sanders said.
If the project needs narration, there’s also an audio/voiceover booth in the same room. Just outside the booth is a kegerator that serves local beer, and those who signed up for the upper levels of membership can get a personalized beer mug. Members get access to the kitchen in Red Productions’ office as well.
Though the space is suitable for filmmaking, members have ranged from consulting firms to photographers.
Local photographer Dwight Vasel is one of them. He uses Backlot as his studio and says one of the best things about the space is, well, “location, location, location.” Backlot is just a walk away from Foch Street establishments like Chimy’s, as well as the West Seventh mixed-use development.
“Location is awesome,” he said. “Trendy area, surrounded by wonderful places to eat and drink – people are impressed when you tell them the area [where] you have a studio. When clients walk into the contemporary, urban environment of the Backlot, your business gets instant credibility, and the amenities are out of this world. Nothing is lacking.”
Sarah Copp, who runs a marketing consultation company called Good Copp Creative Consulting, discovered Backlot through a Google search. She started her company at home after her first daughter was born. Now officing at Backlot, she says the space is a “wonderful environment” where she can bounce off ideas with other members.
“It's really just the whole package for me – the use of their WiFi and printers, access to the conference room for meetings, snacks, coffee, drinks, etc., the creative energy and the friendly and fun people,” she said. “Bonus benefit is that a couple of the guys bring in their dogs, and who doesn't love dogs?”
There’s just one caveat about Backlot – Sanders said Red Productions’ lease expires in a little over a year, so the company is considering relocating, but staying in Fort Worth. Wherever the company goes, however, Backlot will still continue, Sanders said.
“We’ve certainly enjoyed this space,” he said. “We are looking at other options to expand this and stay in Fort Worth certainly. Our lease is up here. We’re currently looking at options to be able to move our studio and also expand the Backlot side as well to be able to offer more amenities for members in the future.”
Sanders said he sees Backlot as a way to give back to the community, the same way the community helped him in the early days of his company.
“It’s an honor to be able to pay it forward and provide an easy business solution for folks, whether they’re trying to follow their dream with a new startup idea, or whether they’ve been in business for years and just looking to take it up a notch and have an office setting to come to,” he said. “That was a big thing for me at TECH Fort Worth, the separation between home and work.”