Tosca Musk, Elon’s sister, has a enterprise enterprise of her personal — and it is all about romance and feminine sexuality | CNN

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Tosca Musk, Elon's sister, has a business venture of her own -- and it's all about romance and female sexuality | CNN

2022-11-20 19:16:24


Atlanta, Georgia
CNN
 — 

Tosca Musk strides onto the crimson carpet at a Regal Cinemas, statuesque in a white pant go well with and glistening burgundy silk high.

A hush comes over a gaggle gathered exterior the theater’s doorways. Some whip out cell telephones and begin recording her each transfer.

It’s a cold October evening in Atlanta, and the followers are right here for the premiere of “Torn,” the second in a trilogy of romantic fantasy films based mostly on books by creator Jennifer Armentrout. The group of principally feminine followers vary in age from their twenties to their seventies, and a few flew in from Boston, Detroit and different cities.

This can be a massive evening for Musk and her five-year-old streaming service Passionflix, the backer of the film. It’s their first public movie premiere for the reason that pandemic began.

She floats from one group to a different, chatting effortlessly with Passionflix’s superfans, generally known as Passionistas. Her older brother, Elon Musk, would be the most well-known sibling within the household, however he’s not the one one who’s based an organization.

Musk, 48, is the drive behind Passionflix, which adapts romance novels into films and streams them to a faithful area of interest viewers. Romance novels are the most well-liked style of books in the USA, and Musk is tapping into that market with tales about sultry, highly effective feminine leads and good-looking males with chiseled abs. She directs a few of the movies herself.

“Passionflix focuses on adapting romance novels precisely because the fan and the creator envision it,” Musk says in a separate CNN interview. “We deal with connection, communication and compromise – and take away the disgrace from sexuality, particularly for girls, as a result of it empowers girls to each acknowledge and ask for pleasure.”

Days earlier, on the set of a Passionflix film, “The Secret Lifetime of Amy Bensen,” Musk supplies a number of glimpses into life together with her well-known household.

Perched on a navy blue sofa in a room tucked inside a warehouse in suburban Atlanta, she chooses her phrases fastidiously when requested about her older brother, who was on the verge of his Twitter acquisition.

The Musk kids – Elon, Tosca and one other brother, center baby Kimbal – had been born in South Africa and frolicked in Canada earlier than coming to the USA. Their father, Errol, is an engineer and property developer, whereas their glamorous mom, Maye, is a mannequin.

From left to right: Tosca Musk, Kimbal Musk, mother Maye Musk and Elon Musk at Maye's 50th birthday party in 1998.

Tosca Musk attended movie faculty on the College of British Columbia in Vancouver and moved to California after commencement. For 3 months, she labored for certainly one of Elon Musk’s corporations, Zip2.

“I noticed each time I stepped out of the movie world, I used to be simply not pleased,” she says. “It simply wasn’t my factor.”

After a quick stint on the Los Angeles workplace of Canadian media firm Alliance Atlantis, she started directing and producing movies whereas nonetheless in her twenties.

Musk produced romance movies for the Lifetime and Hallmark channels and in 2005 launched a comic book net collection, Tiki Bar TV, which was hailed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs as forward of its time within the rising discipline of vodcasts – or video podcasting.

Then got here Passionflix. Its origin story is a traditional story of when one door closes, one other one opens.

About 5 years in the past, Musk acquired an electronic mail from a lady who needed her to show her script right into a film. Musk liked the script, however there wasn’t a lot curiosity from manufacturing corporations.

“Individuals weren’t actually that as a result of it was too risque … It was an grownup film with a little bit little bit of reincarnation, issues like that,” she says. “It simply wasn’t a type of issues that common community tv needed to do.”

However Musk met the lady, Joany Kane, in Los Angeles, they usually bonded over their shared ardour for love novels. Throughout that dialog, Kane introduced up the thought of turning romance novels into films and making a streaming platform for them.

And with that, Passionflix was born – with Musk on the helm and Kane as a co-founder.

“We had no traders. We needed to exit and discover each investor. So it was a matter of going out and pitching each single individual,” Musk says. “We pitched each pal, each member of the family, all people only for that small little bit of angel funding. It was laborious. The primary cash in is at all times the toughest cash.”

Kevin Joy on the red carpet at the premiere of Passionflix's

Musk declines to say whether or not her brother Elon was certainly one of her unique traders. However she says she will be able to at all times depend on her two brothers, together with restaurateur Kimbal Musk, to present her recommendation on her enterprise ventures. She tries to not ask except she actually must.

“I get recommendation from them to a sure diploma after I ask for it. However no unsolicited recommendation,” she says. “If I ask for recommendation, I’ve little question that he (Elon) will give it to me. After which I’ve to take it, as a result of he’s going to be proper. So it’s a must to actually need to know what you need to ask. However more often than not after I’m with my household, we discuss household issues.”

So what does she take into consideration her brother’s new position as CEO of Twitter – and the flurry of headlines surrounding it?

No remark.

Passionflix’s first movie was “Hollywood Filth,” based mostly on a best-selling novel by Alessandra Torre a few Southern lady who finds romance with a Hollywood star when he involves her small city to movie a film.

“Throughout that taking pictures of that film, we had been struggling,” Musk says. “Are we going to get cash? Are we going to have the ability to end it? We had been probably not certain. We principally had been simply kind of piecing the {dollars} collectively.”

In Could 2017, Musk performed a trailer of the film at a romance novel conference and requested attendees to prepay $100, as founding members, for a two-year Passionflix subscription. About 4,000 folks signed up, Musk says, and he or she and Kane used that to indicate potential traders they had been onto one thing.

“Attempting to boost cash for a female-driven platform on romance was simply not excessive on anyone’s precedence checklist on the time,” she says. “However as quickly as we confirmed there was that many individuals that will come on board, the traders simply began flying in.”

Fans take photos of people on the red carpet at the premiere of Passionflix's

Passionflix has since produced greater than two dozen feature-length and brief movies, in response to the Web Film Database.

The corporate stays lean – it has a core workforce of seven individuals who every put on lots of hats. Along with producing its personal content material, Passionflix additionally licenses movies for its platform.

“I believe the largest problem for Passionflix is we are able to’t produce sufficient content material to satiate the followers,” Musk says. “It’s a wrestle with so many streaming platforms, when folks need unique content material on a regular basis.”

With greater than 200 streaming providers now competing for viewers, such area of interest markets face a myriad of challenges, says Dan Rayburn, a streaming media professional and guide.

Creating, licensing and advertising and marketing content material may be very pricey, he stated. And whereas romance is the biggest-selling style of books within the US, that doesn’t essentially imply its recognition interprets to films.

“That’s evaluating apples to oranges. Books are totally different,” Rayburn says. “This enterprise is past powerful. It’s extremely aggressive and requires an absolute giant sum of cash.”

Passionflix costs a subscription payment of $5.99 a month. The corporate doesn’t disclose its subscriber numbers. Musk says subscribers are within the “six figures,” however declines to supply specifics.

Rayburn says it’s laborious to find out the corporate’s profitability with out realizing its bills, together with manufacturing and licensing prices.

“OK, when you don’t have subscriber numbers, what’s the utilization? What number of hours monthly do folks watch it? How a lot are you spending on content material licensing?”

A deep dive into Passionflix’s on-line film catalog reveals a mixture of modern romance, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, erotic fan fiction and associated sub-genres.

The movies, which stream on the Passionflix web site and on Amazon Prime Video, are rated on an escalating steaminess scale Musk calls a “barometer of naughtiness.”

The 5 classes: Oh So Vanilla, for healthful romcoms; Mildly Titillating; Ardour and Romance; Toe Curling Yumminess; and NSFW (Not Secure for Work). The latter class has risque plot traces and extra intercourse – suppose “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

However Musk says that even the naughtiest Passionflix films don’t attain the soft-core porn threshold.

“After we first began Passionflix, someone requested us if we’re going to fee utilizing MPAA,” she says, referring to the Movement Image Affiliation of America’s film scores reminiscent of PG-13, R, and so on. “I don’t really like all of these scores. They’re not particular to girls. I needed one thing that might fee our exhibits and create extra of a tongue-in-cheek dialog.”

Attendees watch the premiere of Passionflix's

Musk says she’s a romantic at coronary heart and is an enormous fan of the style.

“Love is wonderful, it’s extremely highly effective. I really like to inform tales of affection, every kind of affection,” she says. “So parental love, pal love, household love, and love between any type of couple.”

That broad vary of romantic genres, and its horny content material, are what units Passionflix aside from channels reminiscent of Hallmark and Lifetime Film Community, says romance novelist Tamara Lush. She believes the romance style has been particularly widespread through the pandemic as a result of folks search consolation in tales with happy-ever-after endings.

“Hallmark is romance-centered however the tales are very, very candy. Passionflix tells a wider vary of tales, and those romance readers need to watch,” Lush says.

“The recognition of ‘Bridgerton,’ ‘After’ and ’365 Days’ on Netflix ought to inform streaming providers all they should know: that romance is a profitable and certain wager for viewers.”

Passionflix’s unique subscribers, generally known as founding members, get entry to film premieres and filming units.

Final month in Atlanta, about 4 dozen of them piled into the Regal theater for the premiere of “Torn.” Following the film, Musk hosted a question-and-answer session with the lead actors, adopted by an after-party at a bar throughout the road. Followers and actors mingled over drinks.

Debbie Parziale, 67, says she flew in from Boston for the occasion. One of many founding members, she says she spent the pandemic years curled up on her sofa, watching Passionflix films.

“I really like Tosca’s premise of empowering girls and making intercourse not such a taboo topic,” she says. “She’s so true to the romance novels. Whenever you learn a e book and watch certainly one of her films, it’s the e book you learn.”

Debbie Parziale, Deborah Thornton and Amanda Cromer, from left, at the premiere of

Amanda Cromer, 32, says she signed up for Passionflix at a romance e book conference. She loves the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the Passionistas. The group has a digital e book membership, referred to as Ardour Squad.

As one of many unique members, Cromer can go to units and work together with the actors. Cromer, who lives in a suburb of Atlanta, says that in a go to to the set of “Torn” she grew to become an additional in a restaurant scene.

“I really like the empowerment the flicks deliver,” says Cromer, who attended final month’s “Torn” premiere together with her mom.

“They select books with sturdy feminine leads. They’ve achieved such an excellent job of portraying the feminine persona as a robust impartial feminine, and never a timid individual.”

Again on the set of her newest romance film, Tosca Musk strikes from one sparsely furnished room to a different.

Musk lives in suburban Atlanta together with her two kids, 9-year-old twins who had been conceived by means of in vitro fertilization utilizing an nameless sperm donor.

She’s on the point of fly to Italy with the twins to movie “Gabriel’s Redemption,” the third e book in a collection by Sylvain Reynard a few Dante scholar and his passionate affair with a youthful graduate scholar. She says they plan to take pleasure in numerous gelato in Florence and go to Oxford, England, so the youngsters can see a few of the places the place the Harry Potter films had been filmed.

As a single mom, Musk says she marvels on the path that led her to a job she loves.

Tosca Musk poses for a portrait in Fairburn, Georgia, on October 11, 2022.

She hopes Passionflix will assist persuade the movie business’s massive names that adopting romance novels into films is a worthy funding.

“The leisure world is managed principally by males. On the finish of the day, the selections are inclined to sway towards the male viewers versus the feminine viewers,” she says. “In addition they are usually extra in regards to the victimization of girls than they’re about sexually free or sexually empowered tales about girls.”

And for Musk, there’s additionally an easier cause for her filmmaking ventures.

“I’m a storyteller at coronary heart,” she says. “I simply need to have the ability to inform tales.”

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Supply by [tellusdaily.com]