Film Courage: I know you’ve produced numerous movies, you’ve worked for other people but you’ve wanted to direct for a very long time and I was wondering what that journey was like? And now to finally be able to direct three movies (and more are on the horizon it sounds like), as well?
Tosca Musk: Well, I did two movies prior to Passionflix. I directed two movies prior to Passionflix, three movies actually.
I started out as an actor and then went into directing and then after directing my first feature I realized it’s like really, really hard to actually get it out and do things and then I went into producing and I produced for the next 10 years.
It was after I had my kids that I realized I wanted to do something that’s more creatively fulfilling for me. And I went and met with an executive producer who I produced a couple of movies for before and she is an awesome woman. She works at Lifetime now (her name is Sharon Bodis). And she said “What do you want to do?” And I said “I want to direct.” And she goes “Hmmm…I’ll let you direct. I have a movie now. Do you want to direct it?” And I went “Yeah, sure!” And she said “Okay.” And within a month I was on prep with that movie and directing. It was called YOU CAST A SPELL ON ME and that’s the one the Joany saw. So having that lunch with her basically changed my life and brought us to Passionflix because she said I could direct that movie, Joany saw it, she loved it, Joany contacted me and now we have Passionflix. That’s basically it. That’s the short story.
I got to make two movies for Sharon. I made that one and then the following year they hired me to make a CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS, which was a Christmas story and also a love story for ION as well.
Great experience, that’s where I met Emma Rigby and as soon as we made Passionflix, I asked Emma Rigby to be my first female lead of Passionflix for HOLLYWOOD DIRT.
So it all just sort of worked together. I was very fortunate. Of course it was 15 years of slogging to get to that point. But I was very fortunate to be given that opportunity by a great supporter of women.
Film Courage: To know that someone believed in you that quickly, where you were probably just coming down the line and [possibly] this was something (probably you weren’t expecting it so fast), what was that first day on set like? Terrifying? Empowering? Both?
Tosca Musk: It was exciting, actually. I definitely felt that I was in my own and that I owned it for sure. It was a very positive experience. That entire movie was wonderful. Again the two lead actors that I worked with (Ryan McPartlin and Nikki Deloach) had great chemistry. We had great chemistry together. And so we still are in contact and we still want to make another movie another. And so it was a really positive experience. I knew exactly what I wanted as a filmmaker. I had a great DP with me and he was very knowledgeable (a lot of experience).
Oh! Actually on that one I didn’t [have him] but I had a great DP. She was new to the field in that particular one but she was so supportive. So I had the DP that I had a lot of experience on my next movie CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS. So it was a positive experience, it was just fun. And I think once you’re doing something that you are passionate about and that you really, truly believe you should be doing, you do a great job, you excel in that. And that’s why to me it’s not considered work, it’s considered play. So I can do it forever, which is great, I have a great time.
Film Courage: So going back to that first experience [as a director], it was also the chemistry and the environment. It all seemed to kind of work?
Tosca Musk: Yeah, the chemistry and the environment, I mean I think at the end of the day (and I’ve been fortunate to have been told this by a lot of my crew members) is that the environment is created by the director. So the director, the mood on set is going to be based on how the director is feeling that day. And if I was throwing tantrums and yelling at everybody, probably it wouldn’t have been a great set to work on.
But I arrived and we were laughing and joking and having a fun time from the second we started and so everybody was laughing and joking and having a great time and that really helped.
My producer Jina (who is the producer on all the movies, as well) she and I have a No Asshole Policy on the set. We actually give people a warning so when we hire them we say “Hi, listen the only drama that happens on set is going to be on screen. So if you’re going to be dramatic in anyway and cause problems, you are welcome to leave. You don’t have to stay. Nobody is making you work here. If you don’t like it, you are absolutely welcome to leave. But if you do like it, we’d love for you to stay and let’s have a great time. We are going to make a movie and it’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery and people’s lives are not on the line here. So let’s just have fun creating something.” And so that goes over really well with a lot of crew members. And there have been a few times that we’ve had crew members that have been…(and actors) people who have not been nice. And so we kindly invite them to leave…rarely.
Film Courage: So having that sense of humor…yeah…I would hope so…it happens…it definitely does. Sometimes people clash, whatever. I think also having a sense of humor [helps]. Sometimes I don’t always see that in people and even if it’s just going to the grocery story and it’s rare…maybe it’s just because Los Angeles is so crowded and everybody is thinking of being somewhere else, doing something else. But maybe having that sense of humor and people think “Okay, I can relax a little bit.”
Tosca Musk: Yeah, I’ve very funny on set apparently! I love laughter. Romantic comedies are my strength so that is what I love to make the most. HOLLYWOOD DIRT was definitely a great one for me, it’s an empowering woman but it’s a comedy and it’s a romance. And then MATCHMAKERS PLAYBOOK, it’s a romance and a comedy. What was actually hard for me was AFTERBURN/AFTERSHOCK because it’s a drama. So I had to try and figure out how to make a drama and still keep it light and funny on set because there are so many dramatic scenes in that movie. But if you see the behind-the-scenes, as soon as I call cut everyone is laughing and having a great time. I whistle a lot so people…I whistle and I sing on set, a lot! Which is somewhat embarrassing because I don’t realize that I’m doing it until the boom operator or the sound mixer will come up and just start recording it and then they’ll play it back and I’ll be like “Oh…wow! Yes that’s me whistling on set.”
But it keeps it…there’s a levity then to set, it just keeps everything light and fun and I think that’s important.
But romantic comedy is definitely my strength, I say. Although I did like making AFTERBURN/AFTERSHOCK.
Question for the Viewers: Where are you on your journey?
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