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



Atlanta, Georgia
CNN
 — 

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

A hush comes over a bunch 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 primarily based on books by creator Jennifer Armentrout. The group of largely feminine followers vary in age from their twenties to their seventies, and a few flew in from Boston, Detroit and different cities.

It is a large evening for Musk and her five-year-old streaming service Passionflix, the backer of the film. It’s their first public movie premiere because the pandemic began.

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

Musk, 48, is the power behind Passionflix, which adapts romance novels into films and streams them to a loyal area of interest viewers. Romance novels are the preferred 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 among 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 ladies, as a result of it empowers girls to each acknowledge and ask for pleasure.”

Tosca Musk greets attendees at the premiere of Passionflix's

Days earlier, on the set of a Passionflix film, “The Secret Lifetime of Amy Bensen,” Musk gives just a few 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 youngster Kimbal – have 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 one in every of Elon Musk’s corporations, Zip2.

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

After a short 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 sequence, 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 girl who wished 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 somewhat little bit of reincarnation, issues like that,” she says. “It simply wasn’t a type of issues that common community tv wished to do.”

However Musk met the lady, Joany Kane, in Los Angeles, and so they 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 buyers. We needed to exit and discover each investor. So it was a matter of going out and pitching each single particular person,” Musk says. “We pitched each buddy, each member of the family, everyone only for that small little bit of angel funding. It was arduous. The primary cash in is all the time 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 one in every of her authentic buyers. However she says she will be able to all the time rely on her two brothers, together with restaurateur Kimbal Musk, to provide her recommendation on her enterprise ventures. She tries to not ask except she actually must.

“I get recommendation from them to a sure diploma once I ask for it. However no unsolicited recommendation,” she says. “If I ask for recommendation, I’ve little doubt 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 you need to actually need to know what you need to ask. However more often than not once I’m with my household, we speak about household issues.”

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

No remark.

Passionflix’s first movie was “Hollywood Dust,” primarily based 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 capturing of that film, we have been struggling,” Musk says. “Are we going to get cash? Are we going to have the ability to end it? We have been probably not certain. We principally have been simply form of piecing the {dollars} collectively.”

In Might 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 she or he and Kane used that to point out potential buyers they have been onto one thing.

“Making an attempt to boost cash for a female-driven platform on romance was simply not excessive on anyone’s precedence record on the time,” she says. “However as quickly as we confirmed there was that many individuals that might come on board, the buyers 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 quick movies, in line with the Web Film Database.

The corporate stays lean – it has a core staff 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 feel 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 authentic content material on a regular basis.”

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

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

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

Passionflix fees 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 arduous to find out the corporate’s profitability with out understanding its bills, together with manufacturing and licensing prices.

“OK, for those who don’t have subscriber numbers, what’s the utilization? What number of hours per 30 days 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 Protected for Work). The latter class has risque plot traces and extra intercourse – assume “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, any person requested us if we’re going to charge 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 truly like several of these scores. They’re not particular to girls. I wished one thing that might charge our reveals 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 superb, it’s extremely highly effective. I like to inform tales of affection, every kind of affection,” she says. “So parental love, buddy love, household love, and love between any form of couple.”

That broad vary of romantic genres, and its attractive content material, are what units Passionflix other than channels reminiscent of Hallmark and Lifetime Film Community, says romance novelist Tamara Lush. She believes the romance style has been particularly well-liked in the course of 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 companies all they should know: that romance is a profitable and certain guess for viewers.”

Passionflix’s authentic subscribers, often 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 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. While you learn a e book and watch one in every 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, known as Ardour Squad.

As one of many authentic 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 turned an additional in a restaurant scene.

“I 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 carried out such a very good job of portraying the feminine persona as a powerful impartial feminine, and never a timid particular person.”

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 have been conceived via in vitro fertilization utilizing an nameless sperm donor.

She’s on the brink of fly to Italy with the twins to movie “Gabriel’s Redemption,” the third e book in a sequence by Sylvain Reynard a few Dante scholar and his passionate affair with a youthful graduate scholar. She says they plan to get pleasure from plenty of gelato in Florence and go to Oxford, England, so the youngsters can see among the areas the place the Harry Potter films have 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 large names that adopting romance novels into films is a worthy funding.

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

And for Musk, there’s additionally an easier motive 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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