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‘Sparkle’ Producer Debra Martin Chase Talks Movies & Whitney Houston

There are a small number of Black female producers in Hollywood who have been able to stay relevant and profitable; Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Tracey Edmonds, Queen Latifah and then there’s Debra Martin Chase. Her name may not register with the general public the same way as the aforementioned women, but her credits speak for their self: Cheetah Girls, Cinderella, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 1 and 2, Princess Diaries, 1 and 2 and most recently, Just Wright. Some may consider her work “chick flicks,” but Martin Chase makes movies for a living and the living is good.

Still an artist at heart, the movie veteran is producing two films set to release in 2012 and one on 2013; Sparkle, starring Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston in her final theatrical performance; Dirty Dancing with director Kenny Ortega and Elixir, another Sanna Hamri collaboration. caught up with Martin Chase on the Detroit set of Sparkle as she dished out lessons on Hollywood moviemaking and staying ahead of the curve.

As a producer, can you talk about your pitching process?

The pitching process has evolved over the years and certainly I’ve become savvier about how I do it. There was a time when I was younger and fresher and probably more innocent. I’d find a story and be passionate about it and I’d say, I’m going to make this movie. I’d go in and tell the story and do my best to sell it. Now, I’m picking my projects and being smart about it; how you sell it, where you sell the project and also, the name of the game for me, as a producer, is that I have to make product. That’s what I do. The more product I make that’s good and that does well, the more power I have to do more things. In today’s marketplace, it really is about pitching how you’re going to sell the movie as much as it is about how good the story is.

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