What began as a media ministry for Alex Kendrick and his brother Stephen has grown into an amazing film enterprise, called Sherwood Pictures (first they made Flywheel, then the inspiring football drama Facing the Giants and Fireproof), that defies typical Hollywood life cycle.
Fireproof opened in 839 theaters nationwide in September 2008 with an amazing average of $8,111 per theater that gained national attention. It nearly overtook the theater average for Eagle Eye ($8,305), which opened in 3,510 theaters according to Box Office Guru.
Fireproof was the highest grossing independent film of 2008, taking in more than $33,000,000 domestically. Alex Kendrick directed the film, which he also co-wrote with his brother Stephen. He recently took some time to talk with us about his journey and the continuing wave of media exposure they've experienced, a wave certainly helped by a recent television segment on the June 5th edition of ABC’s late night news program, Nightline.
Describe your family life and background.
I was born in Athens, Georgia, the second of three sons. Now I get great support from my wife, Christina and family of six children…Stephen has four. After the success of Fireproof, my wife just exclaimed "How is this happening?" We were both amazed how God was showing Himself through these films.
Before creating Sherwood Pictures in 2002 at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, I achieved a bachelor’s degree in communications at Kennesaw State University then had several media ministry related positions.
How did Sherwood Pictures begin?
My initial interview at [the] church was in March 1999. After that I became associate pastor of media where we met the needs of the church through our ministry including the televised talk show Home Connection. I got the idea for Sherwood Pictures in 2000. I had read a George Barna article about movies and thought it would be an impactful way to reach people. I didn’t feel extraordinarily gifted as a filmmaker. God has blessed these films and I have followed His direction.
How do you generally get a film started?
We always have several ideas to consider. We start with a season of prayer where we seclude ourselves for about three to four months. We focus our efforts and ask God to confirm the direction in all of us and that He will turn all our hearts in the same direction. We use the platform of film to present Biblical truth and tell a meaningful story to our audiences.
What recent developments have you been experiencing at Sherwood Pictures?
We recently had another qualified person take over the media ministry so we could be more focus[ed] on our films after talking with our pastor. We’re planning to present our next film idea soon to our pastor and executive pastor. Once we’re all in agreement, then we’ll start the script. We will continue to truly seek God and do what He asks of us.
You played Pastor Strauss in the ending scene of Fireproof. Besides acting in the other two films that you have collaborated with Stephen, Facing the Giants and Flywheel, you have also been editor, composer, producer, and cinematographer. How do you manage everything?
We’re fortunate to have cast and crew members that seek God and trust Him in our endeavors. We’re working hard to improve our skills and take a more artistic approach in the action and production values. We’ve done our best to keep up with “momentum of movies”.
Tell us about the related projects that branched out from the film like the #1 New York Times best-selling book, The Love Dare and music soundtrack.
After Facing the Giants, I was jogging one day and got the idea for The Love Dare book, which came before the plot for Fireproof. I told Stephen and prayed about it. We thought it would be a good ministry tool book that had a marriage focus. In the Fireproof production timeline, we shaped the plot with a script, filmed everything, edited the film, then wrote The Love Dare book while promoting the film.
We’re planning a daily follow-up. Something people can do 365 days a year as a devotional experience, then next summer we’ll begin writing Love Dare For Parents. The concept of more books is exciting as we follow what God wants us to do.
Mark Willard composed a great musical score for the film and we got great musical artists like Third Day, Leeland, Casting Crowns, John Waller, Grey Holiday, and Warren Barfield to contribute songs.
Since the home video release, Fireproof has reached even more audiences redefining word of mouth and longevity by still making headlines, especially recently gaining attention on ABC’s national news program Nightline.
There seems to be a fascination with why some Christian movies work and some don’t. We’re not filmmakers who happen to be Christian. We don’t hide the fact that we are Christian. People are looking for a recipe and I’ve had some interesting discussions with people. God chooses to do things. It’s hard for anyone to explain.