As he was jogging one day, Alex Kendrick sensed God nudging him to consider marriage. Alex found it an interesting proposal. When he told his brother Stephen, there was instant agreement.
Since both brothers have long been happily married—Alex to Christina, and Stephen to Jill—God’s leading wasn’t about their personal lives. Instead, it was an answer to prayer for their moviemaking ministry efforts.
“I was running around the block and I sensed the Lord telling me to focus on marriage, which wasn’t what I had intended to do,” Alex says. “I started thinking how ironic it would be if the husband is a firefighter whose marriage is symbolically flaming out.”
The Leadership Team of Sherwood Pictures—Senior Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and the Kendrick Brothers—had been asking God for direction on their new movie with Provident Films. Following that faith-filled run, the team sensed God wanted their third film—the follow up to the surprise hit FACING THE GIANTS—to deal with issues couples face in everyday marriages.
“We weren’t planning to go down this pathway,” Stephen says. “But after months of prayer, the Lord clearly led us to go after this issue through a compelling story that we hope captures the hearts of both women and men.”
“It’s so hard to follow a movie like FACING THE GIANTS,” says Terri Catt, who serves as casting director for Sherwood Pictures. “You don’t want to do another sports movie and get stuck in a genre. When the marriage theme first came up, we were unsure. But when you see it’s a love story about a married couple—you don’t see that often in movies. The movie is so romantic … it’s a love story disguised as a firemen’s story.”
Pastor Michael Catt serves as one of the executive producers on FIREPROOF, along with Jim McBride and Terry Hemmings.
“We believe FIREPROOF paints a 21st-century picture of the faith, hope, and love that makes life and marriage work,” Pastor Catt says. “Adversity and fires will come, but we believe the message of this movie provides the powerful alternative of hope.
“No one can predict what God will do with this movie. There’s an outcome yet to be determined. We’re just bringing our five loaves and two fish before the Lord.”
With the storyline receiving the green light, the Kendrick Brothers began their team effort to create the plot and write the screenplay for FIREPROOF. In some ways, the process started more than two decades ago.
“I’ve wanted to do movies since I was nine,” Alex says. “My brothers Shannon, Stephen, and I made all these silly movies in our backyard. They all had the same plot: ‘Chase ’em down, beat ’em up.’
“As I became serious about God in high school, I wanted to do things that pleased Him. In college and my early days of ministry, I made some short films for ministry purposes. But when I saw a study that said movies and television influenced youth more than the church, I went back to my dream of wanting to do movies.”
Then, as now, Senior Pastor Michael Catt was empowering his staff to have “God-sized” dreams of how Sherwood could reach the world from Albany, Georgia. With the support and blessing of the church, FLYWHEEL was filmed in 2003 on a budget of only $20,000, FLYWHEEL is the story of Jay Austin, a used-car salesman who discovers a better way of doing business—one that honors God.
In addition to playing in their local theatre for six weeks, FLYWHEEL became an independent DVD success, selling nearly 100,000 units in its initial format. The movie has been a top-seller in Christian retail since November 2007 when Provident Films and Sony released FLYWHEEL: Director’s Cut.
The success of FLYWHEEL encouraged Sherwood to make a second independent film: FACING THE GIANTS. With a budget of $100,000 and the help of five production veterans, the movie was filmed over six weeks in Albany. Like FLYWHEEL, GIANTS featured an all-volunteer cast.
Through a series of incredible events, the film was optioned by Provident Films and released to 441 theatres in October 2006. By the end of its limited theatrical release, the story of a high school football coach and his team’s incredible championship season earned more than $10 million at the box office. When it was released on DVD, FACING THE GIANTS sold more units in CBA retail stores than any other entertainment product (audio or video) for 2007.
“In Hollywood, they call Giants the little movie that could,” says producer David Nixon.
In Albany, people are still amazed.
“It’s surreal. Why would we be anything but unaffected? It’s not real to us,” Terri Catt says. “We’re in our little world in southwest Georgia. I’m still shocked when I see FACING THE GIANTS in Wal-Mart.”
In FIREPROOF, Sherwood’s newest film, we enter the world of Albany Fire Department Capt. Caleb Holt and his wife Catherine, a hospital public relations director. We meet the couple seven years into their quickly dying marriage.
“It’s an incredible story that will capture the hearts of moviegoers,” says Terry Hemmings, President and CEO of Provident Music Group and an executive producer of FIREPROOF. “We can’t wait to see the impact this film has as it challenges people to think about the kind of marriage they really want to have.”