Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative last year published a comprehensive study
looking at representation on screen and behind the camera in 900 popular films released between 2007 and 2016.
They found that in films made in 2016, female characters only made up 31.4 percent of the 4,583 speaking roles. That figure was up from 29.9 percent in 2007. And over the course of that 10-year stretch, only 4.1 percent of the directors were women.
But in 2017, the three top-grossing films
of the year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast
and Wonder Woman,
all had women in the lead role. So clearly, there is something of a disconnect to what stories are being made and what audiences want to see.
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This was a gap that filmmaker and producer Tosca Musk sought to fill with her latest venture, Passionflix. It’s a $5.99-a-month subscription streaming platform for original movies and other digital content adapted from best-selling romance novels — as well as a licensed library of romantic movies.
So why romance? Well, for one thing, it’s a genre that brings in more than $1 billion every year that resonates with a wide demographic with a decent amount of disposable income.
But more than that, Musk and her co-founders Jina Panebianco and Joany Kane want to make stories that empower women, with well-rounded, strong characters on screen and accomplished female directors behind the camera.
Click through the slides to get Musk’s insights about the challenges of running a creative enterprise, the skills you need to solve problems in love and at work, and what it was like growing up in a family of innovators.