Film Courage: When did the idea for Passionflix begin?
Passionflix CoFounder and CEO, Tosca Musk: The idea for Passionflix came about…it was actually Joany’s idea. Joany Kane is our founding partner. She had the idea quite a few years ago. When FIFTY SHADES OF GREY came out, she was wondering why there isn’t a place for romance novels that had been turned into movies when the movie was such a success. So she actually got the URL (Passionflix.com) and said “I’m going to do this.” And then many years later nothing happened to it. Until one New Year’s Eve she decided ‘I’m going to make it happen’ and she booked a flight to Los Angeles. And it just so happens that Joany and I had met a few months prior. She had watched a movie of mine on Aeon [Network] called YOU CAST A SPELL ON ME. And she contacted me the next day and said “I absolutely loved your movie. I loved how you directed that movie and I would really love it if you would take one of my movies and direct that.” And normally you get a lot of people that solicit you and normally you’re like “No, I’m going to ignore that.” But her note was so sweet and she was just so open in her communication to me that I was like “Okay, let me have a look at the script.” And I was like “Oh! She can really write. She’s a good writer. So let’s meet.”
We tried to bring that movie to a network but no one would buy it because it was a little too sensual, it was a little to risqué, and it had to do with magic and that doesn’t really work well with network television. So that didn’t work. But when she came over that February, we say down and had lunch with her other partner Jina [Panebianco]. And over tunafish sandwiches she told us this thought that she had of Passionflix and we said “Great! It’s a great idea.” And we literally started the next day on basically creating the company, the business plan, put together a full proposal and think about how are we going to do all of this. But then I spent the next few months raising money and it took about a year to raise the money and then optioned books and made our first feature last March. Long answer!
Film Courage: That’s interesting, so you had never really known Joany (and that’s her name, right?) previously it was just that initial email and you just kind of went on a gut feeling that “Wow! This is someone I want to work with.”
Tosca Musk: So the answer is yes. I didn’t know Joany very well at all except for the communication we had on the one screenplay that she’d written and that screenplay was good. And as a director when you get to work with a screenwriter and they are open to your comments and your notes and they adjust their screenplay according to how you see it as a filmmaker, that collaboration just forms a deep partnership to begin with.
So I didn’t know her personally. I’d never met her in person until February but we’d work together by email and phone calls for a few months prior to that. And so as a filmmaker, I knew her well.
Film Courage: Okay so then you raised was it 4.7 million in seed funding?
Tosca Musk: 4.75.
Film Courage: 4.75! Okay.
Tosca Musk: 4,753,000.
Film Courage: Good to know. Can you briefly tell us how this happened? Did you have specific people in mind you knew you wanted to approach?
Tosca Musk: So that was the difficult part. Firstly, I’m related to a lot of people that have raised a lot of people (which is helpful). And so I went to them for advice. What do I do, who do you approach? And they basically said “Everybody.” You just go to anybody. You just constantly tell what the idea is to every single person that you meet and somebody is going to say “Hey, I have somebody who is going to be interested in that.” And that’s what happened. I literally just went to every single person that I knew that had any ability to invest and “I said this is the idea, this is what I’d like to do, do you have any advice for me and would you be interested in coming on board?”
And some people came on board with $5,000, some people came on board with $50,000. So they weren’t huge amounts, but everybody that I spoke to wanted to participate because they think they idea is really good.
Film Courage: I’m always wondering how that happens? Is it a long email? Is it a phone call? Is it when you see them at an event?
Tosca Musk: It’s all of those things. I will take the opportunity to tell people about Passionflix every single place that I go. So it will be at a coffeeshop when I’m wearing a Passionflix t-shirt and I will tell the people there. It will be at a lunch, it will be at an event. I don’t send long emails because most of the people you are dealing with don’t have time to read long emails and they’ll ignore them.
So short and to the point with very specific information in it and what you want. What it is that you are looking to do, what it is that you want and I’m happy to provide you with any further supportive documents for you to review this. That was basically what I do. I’m about to do it again because we need to do another raise.
Film Courage: Is this similar to raising money for a film? Or are they two separate animals?
Tosca Musk: Raising money for a film, it is different. Because here I’m raising money for a company that is a distribution company that has an overall goal, which is to empower women through emotional strength while at the same time owns multiple movies. So we are not making one movie, we are making 50. If you invest in Passionflix you get a part of all 50 movies that we own forever.
Should the company not do well as a distribution company, you still have all these assets and you’re able to sell them and hopefully we’ll make that $50,000 back (I’m sure we will).
That’s why it’s not a difficult ask when it comes to investment because when you’re looking for an investment in one single picture, it’s basically saying “Hi, I have a movie I want to make. I’m going to spend 3 million dollars on this movie. Can you give me some money? And hopefully everybody else likes this movie and I can get a distributor and I can get it into the theaters or get it into DVD or some foreign market. Hopefully we’ll make our money back and then you can get your 20%.”
That’s the individual filmmaking side. Which is a different beast and there are a lot of people that want to invest that way, specifically in California or in the U.S. What I mean is there are tax write-offs that are involved, there’s all these different things that are positive for investors to invest in individual films, but that’s not what we’re looking for.
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Maggie’s dreams of starting a family of her own begin to take shape after she and her husband, Jonah, purchase their first home together. However, the pretty picture’s frame cracks when Jonah loses his job writing for a newspaper soon after moving into the new house. Unable to handle the pressure, Jonah disappears and leaves Maggie to deal with the fallout by Writer/Director John Goshorn. Watch it on Amazon here!