Kendrick Brothers Filmmakers of Courageous and Fireproof Moving in new direction

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ALBANY, Ga. (BP) — Believing God is leading them to mentor the next generation of Christian filmmakers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick — best known for being the writers, director and producer behind “Courageous,” “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants” — are moving in a “new direction” and are launching their own independent production company.

This means they will be expanding their next films beyond the umbrella of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., although they will still live in Albany and remain on staff as associate pastors at the church.

“We have such a burden to help the next generation do this from a biblical perspective,” Alex Kendrick told Baptist Press. “We’ve got to reproduce ourselves and duplicate ourselves, and we think this is the way to do it.”

“We want to teach the next generation of Christian filmmakers.”
— Stephen Kendrick

Instead of using Sherwood church volunteers to help them make the next film, they plan to use aspiring Christian filmmakers and college students who have a long-term interest in producing Christian-themed films, thus providing the students vital experience for going out and making their own faith-based films in the future. Instead of shooting their next film in or around the church, they’ll likely venture out to new locations and other states. And in between making films, they hope to invest more in teaching budding Christian filmmakers about the craft.

One key reason they are going in a new direction, the brothers say, is because there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Christian film students looking for direction in how to make faith-based films.

In a statement released this month on Kendrickbrothers.com, the Kendrick’s stated, “God has been clearly speaking to us through His Word, in prayer, and through the counsel of our pastor and other Godly men. This decision has come out of a faith-step of obedience to God’s leading. We see the wisdom of the Lord’s timing in all of this.”

Alex Kendrick said he and his brother began sensing a coming change after the 2008 film Fireproof, but they and the church leadership — senior pastor Michael Catt and executive pastor Jim McBride — believed God wanted them first to make the film, Courageous.

“We do not desire to leave Sherwood at all,” Alex Kendrick told BP. “It is the best and most loving church we’ve ever been a part of it. The pastor and volunteers at Sherwood have been incredible. They’ve served, prayed, and sacrificed to make these movies happen. But when we finished making each movie, all these volunteers would have to go back to their day jobs. So we were not duplicating ourselves.”

Those roles previously filled by Sherwood volunteers now will be filled by students with an interest in making faith-based films.

Stephen Kendrick said he and his brother are planning and thinking “long-term.” Stephen is 39, Alex 42.

“Sherwood has a banner on the wall that says ‘whoever wants the next generation the most will get them,’ and that is our heartbeat concerning filmmaking,” Stephen Kendrick said. “We want to teach the next generation of Christian filmmakers, and we want to share with them how to pray through all their decisions, how to walk in the fear of the Lord, and how to give God the glory for everything they’re doing in their filmmaking.”

After Facing the Giants and Fireproof were released, many young people with an interest in making films began approaching the brothers and saying, according to Alex, “I want to make Christian films like you guys are doing and I feel called to do it. But where can I go and get training? Can I come mentor under you?”

“That really began bothering us,” Alex said. “It got to the point where we felt the Lord saying, ‘You guys need to start investing in this next generation.'”

Said Stephen, “Our pastor has been instilling in the staff the importance of looking beyond ourselves and getting outside the box. For years Michael has been pouring into young pastors at his Refresh conferences, and has led Sherwood to start new churches and engage an unreached people group in Germany. God has been using his words and example to inspire us to do this with filmmaking.”

The Kendricks announced their new plans before the Sherwood congregation on April 7 and received the blessing of Catt, who asked the church family to pray for them.

“We love these guys and are grateful for God sending them to our staff over a decade ago,” Catt said in statement. “When we began this journey, none of us had movies in mind. It will be exciting for us to take the steps of faith required to see where God will take us. No matter what lies ahead, this has been an incredible ride for all of us. Our prayers are with them as they pursue future endeavors.”

Facing the Giants had a budget of $100,000 and grossed $10 million in theaters. Fireproof’s budget was $1 million and grossed $33 million. The budget of Courageous was $2 million and its theatrical release grossed $35 million. (The theaters and movie distributors keep the majority of the theatrical gross.) Fireproof and Courageous each opened in the Top 5 nationally.

“We’re rooting for the guys coming behind us to get better than we are,” Alex said. “The standard has to get better than Courageous and Fireproof. There’s so much more room to grow. We would be selfish if we tried to stay where we are on a long-term basis. We’ve got to grow and teach [new filmmakers] and push them ahead of us. We’ve only made $500,000 to $2 million movies. These guys can come along and hopefully make much bigger movies that will compete with the best of Hollywood.”

The leadership of several Christian schools — including University of Mobile, Truett-McConnell College, Liberty University, North Greenville University, Ouachita Baptist University, and Bob Jones University — have talked with the Kendricks about their developing film programs, the Kendricks said.

“We’re looking to work with the best of them as recommended by their professors and peers, and we hope to pull them in, make a movie with them, and show them how to pray, how to go through the process of making a Christ-centered feature film, how to avoid a lot of the problems that Hollywood has to deal with,” Alex said.

There will still be a handful of professional crew members on the set, as was the case with Fireproof and Courageous. Students would mentor under those crew members during production.

“What we’re discovering is that many of these young students are developing a skill level to make movies but lack the deeper maturity level to know what kind of theology and biblical worldview to present,” Alex Kendrick said. “We want to train them to do the craft and storytelling, but equally, we want to train them to think biblically and make sure their theology is correct’ — not just to make an action movie and sprinkle Bible verses on top.”

Although Sherwood volunteers made up nearly all of the acting roles in Facing the Giants and Fireproof, that was not the case with Courageous, in which about half the cast was from outside Sherwood.

There is a “large group of talented Christian actors who are undiscovered,” Alex said, “and we’re interested in working with them.”

“So for our next film we’ll pull auditions from all over the country,” he said. “People will be allowed to send clips of their work via YouTube or DVD. We’ll look at those, look at their resumes, and narrow it down to the characters we need, and fly them in for auditions.”

They hope to start writing their next film later this year, with a potential release in late 2014. Alex said. “We’re working on that right now, but a lot of stuff has to fall in place.” In the meantime, people can sign up for email updates on kendrickbrothers.com.

It would be the fifth movie by the brothers, when counting Sherwood’s first movie, “Flywheel.” Kendrick said he wants the students to gather enough experience to go and make their own faith-based films. The hope, he said, is to see “multiple” quality faith-based films released every year.

There already have been films made that were inspired by what the Kendricks have done. “October Baby” was made by brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin after they left the Courageous set, where they served on the crew. “Grace Card” was made by Memphian David Evans after he watched Fireproof and wondered if his church, too, could make a movie. Both October Baby and Grace Card did well in theaters.

“I would like to think we’ve got another seven or eight movies in us, but we need solid, biblically based, God-honoring movies every year,” Alex said. “Yes, there are Christian movies being made, but this is too impactful of an avenue to reach people not to just go after it with all our heart and soul.”
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Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

1 COMMENT

  1. God Bless the Kendrick brothers and all involved with Christian films. I love “Courageous!”
    I am 61 yrs. old and I have been a Christian for
    49 yrs..My testimony would make a great story to
    reach the “Bleeding Bride.” Symbolizing the Church,
    as the Bride. So many “Faithful” tithers have lost
    jobs and are walking by faith. I worked since I was
    16 yrs. of age and I believe in working and helping
    others. I have been in the medical field for approx.
    38 yrs..Due to on the job training, at this age I have “no” creditials, which has phased out my job so I can not work up to retirement. Your films comfort and “teach” the body of Christ. Here is my story: I was saved at the age of 12 yrs. old and in my generation you would married after High School and have a family. You did not go to college, unless you had parents who would “send” you to college. I married a young man who became a police officer and divorced me after fours years of our marriage. He was having affairs and our marriage ended in a divorce. I knew that being a Christian, I could not “practice” fornication. So through my singleness, I was learning the “principles” of God.
    I had to go through my “roller coaster” emotions, getting angry at God while saturating my thoughts with what others thought would be best for me. I did not “read” the word, just sat “under” the word at a Church service. I had to war off suicide feelings, and justifying it would be okay to take out whoever was in my way, if I took out my now divorce husband. When you are young, you think, if I can’t have him, no one can. I was a baby Christian and was not aware of the schemes of Satan, nor the Armor of God. When I finally starting reading and “applying” the word to my life,
    the pain of deception was healing in my life. I was
    young and attractive and now had to deal with married men trying to take advantage of men, while working in the Medical Field. I have remained single and never indulged in “Shacking up” with any guy to make ends meet. I am a soldier for Jesus Christ, but I am bleeding within as the Bride of the Church. I have been unemployed for 3 yrs., and I have been able to work a few weeks at a time during the Holiday Seasons. I am a member of a spirit filled Church and I love my Church. Unfortuately, Pastors come and go, and knowing your
    past service in the Church can be over looked as a member. With all fairness, the hardship should not be on a pastor’s shoulders, for those who are unemployed and who support the Church with tithes and offerings. I believe there should be a movement where the body of Christ should been very supportive to those they “know” who are without work, money and groceries. It is so easy to say, “I am praying for you.” I have had a few friends reach out, but after awhile, they ignore you. Your burden may “cost” them and they have issues as well. It is sad to say, but even “family” members who love the Lord will not visit or check to see if you need any assistance. I have felt more “judgement” than love trying to get me through this wilderness of faith.
    I kept myself pure in the Lord, and never had any children. Many Christians are upset with the economy and all the free programs, such as, Welfare and food stamps. I have declined to use the programs and I have had some Christians upset with me. One friend told me about a free class I should go to titled, “How to get out of Proverty.” It was not based on tithing, but a Worldly advice scenario. I believe what the Lord wants His people to do is to humble theirselves by helping His wounded bride. I sit with faithful members who seek the lost,who are hungry and in bondage, but what about the good Samaritan story, with the man on the “path” of those who journey to their destination? The wounded Bride is that wounded man laying in the street. So am I writing this article because I am in need? I gave to those who were in need while I had a good job. During reaching out, I have learned the Bible verses in Luke chaper 17, friends or family. I believe if we strenghten the Bride of Christ, we will see a turn around in our Nation. We need to trust in the Lord and His principles, and not with Government benefits.
    I also have offered to be a Care Giver to those in our Church who may need assistance. I am finding out that most members will lean towards medical benefits, if they will pay for such care and trust a “stranger” into their home, before they would give a Christian in their Church a job, so they can put food on their table and a roof over their head.
    What if a member is faithful taking a shut in to Church, wouldn’t it be nice to give that member some gas money and buy them lunch now and then?
    Thank you Lord for my “Wilderness” experience. My
    actions are dealt with through my “broken heart.”
    My tears are my prayers,
    Shawnee Davis
    Hamilton, OH
    513-896-1446

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