Although two-thirds of the startups we support are in life science, digital health and digital medicine, we pay attention to any talented team that can create positive change in the world in a huge market. Lauren Tracy and X-Factor Films, have a shot at doing just that. X-Factor Films is a Hollywood 2.0 studio that makes badass female entertainment for digitally engaged audiences and brands its ongoing creators directly to that fanbase.

Movies depicting strong female characters make more money

Recently, Tracy was featured in Buzzfeed’s article “Women Directors Share Stories of Discrimination in Hollywood.” In the article, Lauren, along with other female directors, recounted a time in the film and television industry they felt gender discrimination. One director, Clara Aranovich, noted, “People in hiring positions are so goddamn terrified we won’t be able to deliver.” This fear of hiring a female director leaves billions on the table. According to Tracy: “Movies depicting strong female characters actually make $1.56 Billion more than movies without strong female characters in them…When we increase the number of women behind the camera it’s proven that the number of female characters rises.” That’s money the entertainment industry cannot afford to relinquish. In 2014, the movie industry reported its lowest box office revenues in three years.

Going directly to fans online

While many are taking the fight to the Hollywood execs, X-Factor Films has chosen to sidestep Hollywood altogether and go directly to fans online. Their approach is to use the “YouTuber model” and to create a community of ambitious and talented female directors and generate content with a strong female point-of-view. This content would then be disseminated to X-Factor’s audience. “We realized that creating trusted, long-term relationships with filmmakers was the way to keep them wanting to work with us and is something that no one in the industry is giving creators right now.”

When asked about how X-Factor Films will make money, Tracy stated, “There are countless revenue streams for us to tap into like partnerships with brands who need to reach similar audiences and find a better way to engage potential customers with an authentic “cool” factor…Our audience is so incredibly passionate about seeing themselves on screen and fixing the issue, so we know we can create an authentic brand that they will be loyal to.” Tracy adds, “Our business model has evolved significantly with the help of the business community at the VDC and their ability to think outside the box.”

Pilot project about a female vampire gang underway

Tansylvania is a web series about a modern-day female vampire gang in Los Angeles that deals blood out of a spray tan salon. “It’s been a blast to work with such accomplished and talented women on this project so far – three of whom were finalist directors in a recent Lionsgate/Twilight filmmaking competition (including myself). We currently have two official X-Factor Films creators (filmmakers) and through this project will bring on six more – which is really the key to our business being successful.”

Recommendations of movies with strong, badass female characters

We have come to rely on Tracy’s weekly movie picks.  For Mother’s Day, she pitched Mommy, an examination of a hyperactive teenager, his white-trash mom and their kindly neighbor.  Tracy says “We love and know the world needs more heroic, evil, flawed and badass ladies so we are creating a consistently awesome depiction of females both on and behind the camera.”

Her recommendation for you? “A great film recently released is by new writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It’s a beautiful, sexy, black and white western-inspired drama about a mysterious female vampire that you can watch on Netflix and iTunes.”

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