Tosca Musk | Award-Winning Filmmaker, Passionflix Founder

Tosca Musk’s journey is one that spans continents, cultures, and a multitude of creative endeavors. Born in Pretoria, South Africa, her path meandered across South Africa before finding a home in Canada, where she completed her high school education in Toronto. With a thirst for knowledge and a passion for storytelling, Musk pursued her university studies in British Columbia, before briefly returning to Toronto. However, it was in the United States that her true cinematic odyssey unfolded.

Although her initial brush with the film world occurred in Toronto, it was her tenure at Alliance Communications in Canada that truly ignited her passion for filmmaking. From a young age, Musk was captivated by the magic of cinema, inspired by films like “Xanadu” to create worlds of her own. While her admiration for Olivia Newton-John initially led her to explore acting and modeling, Musk’s desire for creative control and influence propelled her towards the behind-the-scenes realm of filmmaking.

Her journey took her from stage management with the Shakespeare Theatre Group in Toronto to the corridors of film studios, where her commitment to the craft of filmmaking only intensified. Despite brief detours into other fields, Musk’s unwavering dedication to storytelling ultimately led her to co-found Passionflix, where she now serves as CEO. For Musk, filmmaking isn’t just a career—it’s a lifelong passion that continues to inspire and fulfill her. As a mother of two, she is an ode of inspiration for women who wish to pursue their dreams relentlessly and succeed.

What led you to take this path instead of working for a production company or a different kind of role in the industry?

Filmmakers, in essence, are entrepreneurs. Every time you embark on a movie project, it’s akin to gearing up for a startup. You assemble the pitch, seek out investors, find distributors, and even approach studios for support. It’s essentially pitching your concept every time you wish to create a single film. So, filmmakers are inherently entrepreneurs. While it might seem glamorous from the outside, filmmaking is far from that. I might be here with hair and makeup now, but the reality is less glamorous than people might imagine. 

“Filmmakers, in essence, are entrepreneurs.”

Beyond Passionflix, with every new movie, you start from scratch. You have your project, your script, or your idea, which is your blueprint for what you’re about to create. Then, you must seek out the individuals or entities willing to invest. What makes this process daunting is that, unlike starting a business that can last for many years before a sale, a movie project typically occurs every two years, or even more frequently depending on budget considerations. So, you’re constantly rebooting, finding new scripts, and starting anew. It’s a cycle of two-year increments, if you’re fortunate.

Passionflix, when founded, was a solution to this cycle. We have a vast array of movies under our control, and we also control distribution. Our direct-to-consumer model allows anyone to subscribe to Passionflix in 150 countries and nine languages. The pitch to investors is enticing because it’s about mitigating risk. You’re not just investing in individual films but also in owning the distribution platform. It’s a much broader pitch than a single movie. So, it was a matter of thinking big and scaling beyond the traditional one-movie-every-few-years approach. 

What drove you to have this mindset?

I received one of the best pieces of advice in my career: “Control distribution.” Those words stuck with me. By controlling distribution, you gain power and the ability to shape the industry’s future, rather than being solely at the mercy of individual film projects.

“Control distribution”

What’s the worst advice you’ve received in your career?

The worst advice I ever received was being told, “you can’t be a mother and a filmmaker.” It’s undeniably challenging, but I designed this business, and it’s very female-focused. We wholeheartedly embrace children being a part of our lives. My kids are always welcome on set, and they know everyone in the company. They travel with me while I’m filming, live with me during shoots, and even join me on set during lunch. They’ve become well-acquainted with the cast, crew, and, of course, the craft services table, which they love. They even do homeschooling while on set. They’ve seen it all, from calling action to cut, watching the monitor, and participating in appropriate scenes.

We foster a family-friendly environment within the company, encouraging our employees to have children if they wish. We go to great lengths to accommodate their lives, too. Regarding my own children, my son wants to be a YouTuber, like many kids nowadays, and my daughter has ambitious career aspirations, including fashion modeling, design, singing, and even a run for the presidency. She’s incredibly determined. My decision to have kids as a single mother was motivated by the realization that I hadn’t found the right person to have a family with by my mid-30s. The pressure on women to meet someone, fall in love, and have children before a certain age can be overwhelming. I decided to remove that stress from the equation and chose to have kids on my own. My family has been wonderfully supportive of this choice, and it has been an incredible journey.

“Choosing to have kids on my own with a sperm donor was, hands down, the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”

Choosing to have kids on my own with a sperm donor was, hands down, the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It grounded me in a way I hadn’t felt before. Until then, I had this laissez-faire attitude about life. As soon as I made the choice to have kids, I realized it was time to grow up. I bought my first apartment, settled into a neighborhood, and started focusing on long-term friendships and connections. This change also had a profound impact on my work, particularly in building Passionflix. It allowed me to think beyond simply chasing one project after another. Instead, I began to prioritize work-life balance. I could create the movies I loved while also nurturing the family life I wanted. I had control over the work-life situation. If I needed to work from home or bring my kids to work, I could do that.

Building a company with stability enabled me to follow my dreams of making romance films and series focused on love and women, all while having a family. It was a wonderful synergy. The routine aspect, well, that was an adjustment. Mothers are incredible multitaskers, and there’s so much we can achieve in a limited time each day. We have to juggle careers, childcare, and household responsibilities. Mothers are fantastic at handling just about anything. 

So, yes, the routine part presented its challenges, but I saw the immense value in it. I was fortunate to connect with a group called “Mothers of Multiples,” specifically “Single Mothers of Multiples” in Los Angeles. This group included incredibly accomplished women in the film industry who provided me with valuable schedules and routines that I followed, particularly regarding sleeping schedules for my kids. It was a well-structured routine that allowed me to manage my work efficiently.

When you have a strict sleeping schedule for your kids, you know exactly when you can schedule meetings and get your work done during those precious few hours of peace while they’re asleep. The rest of the time is dedicated to caring for them and attending to their needs. Now that my kids are eleven, they need me in different ways. They’re pre-teens, and we’re approaching those challenging teenage years. They communicate more and still want to spend time with me, which I cherish. We make the most of the time we have together, whether it’s during the day, evenings, or weekends. Regarding their education, they attend a progressive school that allows them to travel and do homeschooling while on the go. It’s a flexible arrangement that accommodates our lifestyle.

Let’s dive into your work. Why did you decide to focus on romantic movies at Passionflix?

I’ve always had a deep love for romance novels and a desire to tell stories about love. I believe it’s essential for society to consume more stories about love, connection, communication, compromise, and relationships. With so much negative content in the world that can make us sad or scared, I’m committed to creating content that leaves people feeling uplifted and positive. Passionflix tells stories of romantic love, but my goal is to expand the scope to include all types of love, regardless of age, sexuality, or ethnicity. The more we can share stories about love and connection with the world, the happier I’ll be.

While we haven’t yet produced a film specifically about single moms by choice, I’m open to exploring this theme in the future. It’s a relevant and important topic, and I’m sure there are stories waiting to be told. It’s becoming more common for financially independent women to choose single motherhood, and their stories deserve to be heard. 

I wholeheartedly believe that women should know that if they want to have children without a partner, they can and should. The important thing is that if having children is a significant part of their life goals, they shouldn’t wait for Mr. Right to come along. It’s entirely their choice. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity just because you’re waiting for the perfect partner. 

Time is precious, and waiting too long might limit your options. I find that sometimes, not having a father figure in the picture can also be a good choice, depending on individual circumstances. Having two parents, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, is helpful, especially financially and in terms of household support. But it’s important to have a support system, whether it’s family, friends, or a chosen family, because raising kids truly takes a village.

“It’s important to have a support system, whether it’s family, friends, or a chosen family, because raising kids truly takes a village.”

What was / is the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout the decades of your life?

As for lessons learned in my 30s and 40s, my 30s brought the realization that I could have children on my own, which was a significant epiphany. In my 40s, I’ve learned to believe in myself more deeply. It took time to truly recognize my capabilities as a woman, mother, filmmaker, CEO, business owner, boss, friend, and person. 

Regarding raising teenagers, I aim to spend as much time with my kids as possible while they still want to spend time with me. As for being a strict mom, we have rules, but my kids are well-behaved, and they don’t give me reasons to be overly strict. They’re living a pretty good life. I’m a firm believer in manifestation and calling in your future. It’s something I’ve practiced since a young age, particularly in the realm of filmmaking. Having a strong belief in your goals and working towards them is a powerful force for creating the life you want. It’s about setting intentions, focusing on your dreams, and making them a reality. 

However, what I’m manifesting right now is my goal to make Passionflix a household name. I want women (men are welcome too, of course) to have a platform where they can do everything they need to do to fulfill their lives. I want them to have a phenomenal day and, at the end of it, when they need a “me moment,” they can turn on Passionflix.

The vision is for them to experience an emotional roller coaster, to feel validated in all their emotions. Whether it’s a laugh-out-loud movie, a tearjerker, or an empowering film, I want them to go through this emotional journey. And when they turn it off at the end of the evening, I want them to feel replenished, like they’ve filled their emotional cup. Then they can go to sleep, wake up the next day, and do it all over again. That’s what I’m manifesting – a platform that provides a respite and emotional fulfillment for people, a space where they can experience a range of emotions and know that those feelings are entirely valid. It’s all about replenishing their souls so they can continue to take on the world each day.

Do you get inspired by the books and the characters?

Absolutely, I find that when I adapt these books into movies, I often discover things in the story and characters that I can then apply to my own life. It’s not so much that I’m making movies about my life, but rather it’s about the script and the book I’ve chosen to adapt. While working on these adaptations, I realize certain things, and I find aspects that I can direct in the movie. 

Then, I take those lessons and apply them to my life. The beauty of these books is their ability to validate emotions. They are emotionally intelligent, and as I direct them, I see how the characters struggle, communicate, find balance, or compromise. These moments often serve as valuable learning experiences for me, helping me in my relationships, whether with friends or partners. They enhance my communication skills and my ability to express my feelings. At Passionflix, our mandate is to empower people through emotional strength. We want to provide a space for people to feel, experience, and validate their emotions. Emotions are powerful, and suppressing them is not the answer. We encourage people to dive into their emotions and express them, acknowledging that it’s a deeply human experience.

We even have a section on Passionflix called “Feel,” which includes categories like “tissues and ice cream,” “chutzpah and hoo-ha,” “love and laughter,” “thrill me,” and “bite me.” We recognize that there are times when you just need to cry, and it’s okay. You don’t have to cry to your friends; you can watch a crying movie on Passionflix, complete with tissues and ice cream. We validate the need to release emotions and remind you that it’s part of being human. After you’ve let it all out, we want you to pick yourself up and move on, maybe by watching something filled with love and laughter.

Principles to live by:

  • Family: Love
  • Friends: Loyalty
  • Passionflix: Communication
  • Food: Love (family and food go together)
  • Life: Hotspot

Tips and tricks of the trade for women in the film industry or owning a business:

  • Make something that you love, not just what men will love.
  • Know your audience.
  • If you believe in your project, it will be great.
  • Ignore the naysayers and persist.
  • Thrive and keep getting better.
  • Just do it.

These principles and tips apply to both filmmaking and business, especially in male-dominated industries. Belief in your project, resilience, and persistence are key.

I firmly believe that women should have the autonomy to make choices regarding their reproductive paths without feeling pressured to conform to societal norms. It’s crucial for women to know that if they desire children and prefer to pursue motherhood without a partner, they have every right to do so. The decision to have children should be entirely theirs, without the necessity of involving a man if it doesn’t align with their wishes.

One shouldn’t deprive themselves of the opportunity to experience motherhood simply because they’re waiting for the ideal partner to materialize. Time is a precious commodity, especially when it comes to fertility, and delaying this decision indefinitely can lead to regrets, particularly as one approaches their 40s. It’s important to seize the moment and fulfill one’s desires for parenthood when the time feels right, regardless of relationship status.

While traditional family structures often emphasize the presence of both a mother and father, I believe that the absence of a paternal figure doesn’t inherently diminish the quality of parenting or family life. In some cases, it may even prove to be beneficial, as it allows for greater focus and attention from the single parent. Ultimately, the efficacy of parenting isn’t determined by the number or gender of the parents involved, but rather by the love, care, and support provided to the children.

I believe that raising children is a collective effort. Even with the support of family, having good friends around is invaluable. In my case, having friends who understand the demands of parenting is essential. It’s an incredible experience, but it also means sacrificing certain freedoms, like going out when your kids are asleep. That’s why having friends who are willing to come over, share a glass of wine, and watch a movie with you is so important.

It’s a reminder of the importance of friendship and support. Reflecting on my life as I entered my 30s and 40s, there have been significant moments of realization, both personally and professionally.

Now when it comes to manifestation, what are you actively calling in?

You know, looking into the next decade, I really want to reflect on my journey and be able to say, “Yes, I made that happen.” I firmly believe in the power of manifestation. Though I don’t often vocalize it, as I fear diluting its potency by speaking too much about it, I am actively manifesting my vision for Passionflix to become a household name.

My goal is to provide a platform where women—though men are welcome too—can find everything they need to lead fulfilling lives and have phenomenal days. I envision them returning home after a long day of fulfilling responsibilities, feeling drained and in need of a moment for themselves. That’s when they turn on Passionflix.

I want the experience to be like an emotional roller coaster, where they can immerse themselves in captivating stories that resonate with their souls. Whether it’s a movie that makes them laugh uncontrollably, cry their hearts out, or feel inspired to conquer the world, I want them to feel validated in every emotion they experience.

After this emotional journey, I want them to feel replenished, ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way. Whether it’s preparing for the next day, taking care of their loved ones, or nurturing their relationships, I want them to find solace in knowing that their emotions are valid and that they’ve taken a moment for themselves. So, that’s what I’m manifesting: a space where women can find solace, replenish their spirits, and emerge stronger, ready to face whatever life throws at them.

Are there any upcoming movies or topics on the fall calendar that we can delve into?

We’re excited about our upcoming releases. We have Gabriel’s Redemption, the final installment in the saga—a culmination of nine movies in the Gabriel series. It’s a beautifully crafted love story that concludes magically, set to release around Christmas. Alongside this, we have another movie slated for October.

Looking ahead to the next five months, pending work permissions and shooting locations, we’re gearing up for “Fighting to Breathe.” Dubbed the “crying book,” it’s a deeply heartfelt adaptation that promises to tug at the heartstrings. While it explores extremely sad moments, it’s the kind of cathartic experience that leaves you feeling uplifted.

On the lighter side, we’re also planning a romantic comedy titled “Wallbanger.” It’s a complete departure from the emotional intensity of “Fighting to Breathe” and promises plenty of laughs.

Our slate is brimming with projects, and the next steps depend on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations. We’re hopeful that resolutions will be reached soon, allowing us to move forward with production.

Indeed, filmmaking is an art form—a creative endeavor that allows us to express ourselves and connect with audiences on a deeper level.

“I believe it’s essential for society to consume more stories about love, connection, communication, compromise, and relationships. With so much negative content in the world that can make us sad or scared, I’m committed to creating content that leaves people feeling uplifted and positive.”

Have you noticed or have you seen that your experiences will go into certain movies or there are some ways that kind of touch your heart?

Interestingly enough, it’s a bit of the opposite for me. I don’t necessarily draw direct parallels between my own life experiences and the movies I make. Rather, it’s the process of adapting the script and story that leads me to certain realizations. As I delve into the material and work on directing the film, I discover insights that I can apply to my own life.

These books are incredibly poignant, offering a deep understanding of emotions. Every time I direct one of them, I find myself reflecting on how the themes can resonate with my own experiences. For instance, when portraying a couple struggling to communicate or find balance, I often find parallels in my own past relationships. It becomes a learning experience, helping me improve my communication skills not only in romantic relationships but also with friends.

By witnessing these scenarios play out on screen and working closely with the actors, I gain valuable insights that I can implement in my personal life. It’s a process of learning and growth that enriches both my filmmaking and my relationships outside of work.

Is that theme an overarching or underlying motif in your movies? Is there always going to be a lifelike element that, as you mentioned, resonates with emotional depths?

Absolutely, I resonate deeply with our mandate at Passionflix to empower individuals through emotional strength. Our mission is to create a space where people can freely experience and validate their emotions. Despite societal norms that often encourage suppressing emotions, especially for women who are deemed “too emotional,” I firmly believe in the power and importance of embracing our emotions.

There is immense strength in allowing ourselves to feel and express the full spectrum of emotions. It’s a fundamental aspect of our humanity. Whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, or any other emotion, each one serves a purpose in our lives. By embracing and acknowledging our emotions, we become more authentic and resilient individuals.

When I encourage people to be emotional, I’m not suggesting that they should wallow in sadness or despair. Rather, I’m advocating for the healthy expression of emotions. If someone feels the need to cry or express their feelings, it’s essential to honor that need without judgment. It doesn’t make them weak or miserable; it makes them human.

Emotions are complex and multifaceted, and they play a crucial role in shaping our experiences and relationships. By embracing our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel deeply, we become more compassionate towards ourselves and others. So, let’s not suppress our emotions but instead dive into them, knowing that it’s a fundamental part of what makes us human.

That’s precisely the essence of what we offer at Passionflix. Our “Feel” section is designed to provide a comprehensive range of emotional experiences. Whether you need a good cry, a dose of laughter, or a surge of empowerment, we have curated categories like “Tissues and Ice Cream,” “Chutzpah and Hoo-ha,” and “Love and Laughter” to cater to those needs.

Life can throw us curveballs, whether it’s a breakup, a loss, or a setback in our careers. In those moments, it’s crucial to have a safe space where you can let your emotions out without judgment. Our tissues and ice cream movies are there to validate those feelings, allowing you to cry it out and process your emotions in your own time and space.

But we don’t stop there. Once you’ve had your cathartic release, we encourage you to pick yourself back up and embrace the next chapter with renewed strength and determination. That’s where our empowering categories like “Chutzpah and Hoo-ha” come in, reminding you of your resilience and ability to overcome challenges.

And let’s not forget the importance of laughter and love in healing and rejuvenation. Our “Love and Laughter” section offers a delightful escape, allowing you to immerse yourself in heartwarming stories and belly laughs that lift your spirits and remind you of the joy in life.

At Passionflix, we understand the value of experiencing the full spectrum of emotions because it’s through those experiences that we grow and navigate life’s ups and downs. So, grab your tissues, indulge in some ice cream, and let yourself feel because every emotion is a stepping stone towards resilience and fulfillment.

Would consider yourself a spiritual person?

I believe emotions serve as therapy; that’s for sure. Am I spiritual? I think so, but, I mean, listen, we just talked about manifestation. So, there’s something there, but I don’t know how to answer that question, to be honest. I think that, like, if you believe in energy and the universe, you know, some people view it as religion. I remember this beautiful theme by Caroline Myss when I interviewed her; she said, “Religion is politics, and spirituality is love and God and whatnot.”

So, I guess I lean more towards spirituality than religion. But, you know, what I believe in is love, communication, connection, compromise, understanding, support—those are the things that matter to me. I believe in emotions, obviously, and organized religion maybe isn’t at the top of my list.

The incredible thing about America is the freedom for everyone to believe what they want. If that’s your belief, then that’s great, and I support that. It’s part of what makes America great, right?

It’s a lot less political, what I’m about; it’s more about the bigger message. When you talk about Gabriel’s Redemption or the Gabriel’s Inferno series, it does touch on religion, and we leaned into that because there are so many beautiful things to learn and feel. I’ve learned a lot from these characters’ beliefs in religion, and I hope I’ve helped others too. I love that I’m constantly learning.

It’s not in my personality to stick with the same thing every day. If something starts feeling stagnant, I’ll shake things up. I might say, “Alright, everybody, we’re all going to Europe to make a movie,” or something. We can’t become stagnant; we have to try something new and challenge ourselves in different ways.

That’s been with me since childhood. My grandmother, who passed away at 98, was constantly learning until the day she died. She was one of the most incredible women in our lives—a true matriarch. So, we just constantly want to learn things. The more you try to learn and challenge yourself, the younger you remain, and the more fun you have in life.

Photography by Leslie Andrews

Styled by Michael Kors @MichaelKors

JOIN PassionCon in Costa Rica this March 21st to 24th. Visit for details.

Follow @ToscaMusk on Instagram for backstage behind the scenes of a day in the life of a film director. 

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