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Debra Martin Chase Says Black Producers Should “Not Just Focus on Black Product”

Just recently I did an interview with producer Debra Martin Chase who has produced several film and TV projects such as Just Wright, Cinderella, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Cheetah Girls, and just recently Lemonade Mouth for the Disney Channel.

I thought it was a pretty good interview, and my goal is to always try and ask questions that most interviewers don’t (… or in other words I don’t kiss ass).

She also was, I thought, pretty honest about the current troubled state of Hollywood today, and added that black producers in Hollywood should concentrate on broadening out, making  all kinds of films, not just black films, because they’re impossible to get made right now (Unless your initials are TP).

Considering the torrent of comments over that recent John Singleton interview, I wonder what you guys will say about her.

You can read my interview HERE.

17 comments to Debra Martin Chase Says Black Producers Should “Not Just Focus on Black Product”

  • ttenth

    A nice counter from someone behind the scenes to those who just say “we need to make more movies” If it was only so simple.

  • Agreed. The majority of blacks just want films by Citizen Coon anyway. Meanwhile, the Hispanic market is way under-served. Hell, I’d even considering going to “Bollywood” instead — see about what they need. lol

  • Laura

    I think that Black producers should produce more than Black films whether Hollywood are making Black films or not.

    • This.
      …But I’d amend it to say produce more films starring black people, not necessarily “black films” with all the limiting connotations that has.

      We should simply make more movies for a broad audience, starring black people. Not just make black movies, for black people.

  • I think that as long as it’s a good story, it’s a good story. Having said that I strive to make black films that are more like ‘The Cosby Show’ where they’re obviously black, but have universal stories.I’m so tired of seeing one kind of black film at a time “gangsta/hood” or “black romance”. I’m also tired of seeing the black best friend and if there are two black people in a movie/tv they are married or in a relationship.

    • Kia

      I agree. Why does an all black or diverse cast–even if the premise is universal–immediately denote it as a “black film”; therefore putting the film in a undeserved box. That’s why I’m proud of films like I Will Follow.

      • Can’t wait to see ‘I Will Follow’!

      • misha

        Why is there such a stigma (among some) attached to the idea of “black film?” Everytime I hear a black actor say that this isn’t “just a black film” I can do nothing but roll my eyes. So what if it is “just a black film?” Not everyting needs the approval of the mainstream (i.e. white folks). How sad that people of color (particularly black folks) feel such a need to produce “universal” works, especially considering that most white folks aren’t going to watch regardless. Moreover, even the “blackest” of films include universal themes, be it loss, struggle, love, redemption, etc. Then again for some, a film can only be universal if it lacks those cultural elements that are linked to blackness. Sad.

        I also doubt that white filmmakers are concerned with their work being universal. Oh that’s right, whiteness automatically denotes universal. sigh

        Regarding the topic, I get what Ms. Chase is saying and I ain’t hating on anyone who wants to spread their wings. But her solution is exactly why black films will most likely continue to be impossible to make. Instead of black producers coming together with black actors, filmmakers, writers, etc. to produce more black films, they should seek to make “all kinds of films?” Like I said, spread your wings if you like but I really don’t want to hear how difficult it is to produce black films when we’re more than capable of doing so ourselves.

  • chester

    wow just 4 comments so far..wait till everyone gets off work and reads But she is absolutely right. Its a business at the end of day. If we don’t support our own films then what should a black producer do at the end of the day ..keep producing more black films. I feel our films should widen the bullseye..that means having a diverse cast to cast a wider reach. TAKERS a movie that I want not totally impressed(story wise and character to) with accomplished that. They had a good mix of black and white actors and even Latino actor. It helped that they were all easy on the eyes for ladies which is interesting giving the current climate of mass produced black films that are centered around women mostly. This was a “man” flick action, drama a la oceans 11 style(or so they thought). But anyway it was produced by black producer Will Packer and guess what it worked…pulled in alot at the box office. And it was not a TP style I digress but you get the point. Debrah Martin Chase who has been consistant in the game has a point. Don’t pigeon hole yourselves to just your story.

  • Nadell

    She’s right.
    John Singleton is a perfect example of expanding the audience base and not gearing their product to one group. 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers, Illegal Tender and now Abduction. I even think Kasi Lemmons. Eve’s Bayou is about a black family but it is a very universal story and it was ashame it didn’t get the well-deserved attention.
    But although I agree w/ Debra Martin Chase, we always have to consider the mindset of consumers & Hollywood for that matter. Steven Spielberg produced The Color Purple–clearly geared towards Blacks but mind you, if Spike Lee would have taken on this film we wouldn’t be talking about it 26 yrs later. The minute a black producer, director or an all-black cast is attached or even mentioned to a film, we can already expect a majority of consumers not interested for that simple fact. We have to support our own and then people will realize that talent and skill is not melanin-based.

  • Jug

    Notice she didn’t say “don’t make black films” she said “make MORE than black films”. That is about BUSINESS as much as it is about creativity. If you only make on form of film, you will flame out. Today’s marketplace is so saturated with different forms of entertainment, even the greats like Scorsese & Spike (yes I put him up there) have to do other styles (Spike back to commercials and advertising & Scorsese doing kid’s 3D flicks). Plus, there is a stigmatism in Hollywood, both in terms of casting and in terms of marketability, that if there is an “all black” anything it is a message project or has poor quality (thanks Tyler!, couldn’t resist).

    Anyway, if you’re an “artist” aren’t you even interested in the multitude of stories out there in the world, as well as your own? Even Spike loves him some NY, so he tells NY stories just as much as he tells “Black” stories.

  • Zeus

    As I and many on this blog have been saying (especially recently) she is also saying, make an engaging story regardless of the racial make up of the cast.

    Do your own thing and stop crying because Hollywood doesn’t give a damn about you crying. Though stated differently, Mackie and Freeman said the same thing.

  • Cynthia

    Thank God for the indie scene! Just wished the “Black Hollywood Power-brokers” hadn’t rolled over and died because it would have been nice to see black Hollywood films be as successful in the way that black music has thrived worldwide.

  • Jug

    Real Talk, I just came across this from someone on FB and I’m sharing the info. Don’t know what city you’re in or what your aspirations are, but there are cracks in the “Iron Curtain” for the brave :-D

    Let the submitting begin!—Apply-by-4-25.html?soid=1101121363863&aid=qHEpGiwkswI