Jonathan Bellamy caught up with Alex Kendrick
When it comes to love stories, Hollywood finishes before "I do." Fireproof brought a new kind of love story to cinemas across the USA and audiences fell in love with it! Fireproof is an action-packed love story about a fire-fighter, his wife and a marriage worth rescuing! In US cinemas it touched the hearts and souls of millions of filmgoers. When the Cross Rhythms team watched it, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. With The Love Dare, (the book to go with the movie and a New York Times best seller), due out this month in the UK, Jonathan Bellamy managed to catch up with a very busy Alex Kendrick - the co-writer and director of the film and book.
Jonathan: Fireproof has been very successful, but before we talk about that, there were two movies that you got involved with before that. You wrote and directed Flywheel and Facing The Giants. Can you set a little bit of a scene of how you got into doing movies? Because your background is really from a church background in that sense. So it's a great story. Can you explain it?
Alex: Absolutely. We found a survey that came out in America in 2002. It basically said that the media with television, movies and the internet, were now considered to be the most influential factors in our culture. Well as a Church we wanted to utilise the most influential routes and we began praying about doing a little budget movie for our community. And so we made the movie Flywheel. My brother Steven and I wrote it and produced it. It went far beyond our community. It was picked up nationwide by distributors. And we thought we'd sell a few thousand DVDs and it sold almost three hundred thousand DVDs. There was such a response from people that said this really ministered to me, that, well we asked, Lord would you have us do more? So He gave us the plot for Facing The Giants which was our second movie. It was actually released in theatres nationwide in America and distributed in fifty six countries - that then led us to Fireproof. With each movie, we go through what we call a season of prayer, and that's just basically seeking God. Saying Lord what would you have us do? What's the theme of this story line? And on each occasion He has pointed us in the direction He wanted us to go. So Fireproof is our most recent movie. And we were just astonished at the response from tens of thousands of marriages that the storyline has impacted, that have decided to do the Love Dare. That's just more than we ever imagined.
Jonathan: Let's quickly do Facing The Giants briefly. You mentioned fifty-six different countries. I understand it played to about a thousand theatres in the States. And grossed more than ten million dollars in box office receipts. That's a fantastic response to something that I don't think cost you that much to produce, did it?
Alex: No it cost about a thousand dollars. Which was basically for the equipment, because everybody that helped us, all of our actors, and we had several hundred members of our church that all volunteered. So far all three of our movies, we've actually not paid any actors at all. And it's just been a ministry outreach. And so it's blossomed so fast that we have now started Sherwood Pictures which is a production entity out of Church. It's very unusual, but something that has had a significant impact. It's been quite a journey for us.
Jonathan: What's been the response from your home town? Because apart from your Church and the people of your Church getting involved in the actual film, I get the impression it's also engaged a lot with the local community, local businesses and people like that getting involved. What's been the response from the local community to the Church doing something like this?
Alex: My goodness. There have been so many people that have offered to get involved and have helped. In Fireproof we utilised the local hospital, fire stations, police department emergency units, and they just so willingly helped us out with the many scenes in Fireproof. The Mayor got involved. So yes it's become something that the community's become heavily involved in. We're very grateful for that because we would be remiss if we focussed on a national or wider audience and did not pour back into our own community. And so it's been something so much more than a Church effort. It has involved all the community of Albany Georgia.
Jonathan: Now Fireproof - seen by millions in the States and just taken off over here on DVD. What do you think has made Fireproof so popular?
Alex: You know every marriage, not just in our country, but every marriage in the world will undergo trials or I'll call them fires of some sort. And you know we're capable of being very selfish as humans and individuals, we all have faults. Marriage can be wonderful but it can also be very trying and difficult. And nobody's marriage is perfect. And so what we wanted to do was put the focus back on marriage as God intended, just taking biblical principles and applying them to marriage today. And so that's what the Love Dare is about. It's about applying a biblical principle for forty straight days. This is much more difficult than you would think. Bur very rewarding and fulfilling. And so we wanted to impact the entire culture with the message of hope and love and something that would help to strengthen marriages; because if we can strengthen marriage that will strengthen the family, who in turn strengthen our communities and nation. So we're very excited about trying to go back to root issues in re-establishing a stronger foundation for marriage and family knowing that the repercussions from that will have a positive impact on the countries that it's released in.
Jonathan: As you say, in the movie, the husband takes himself through this Love Dare book, a forty day book. I'm just going to read the beginning of this. In the beginning of the book it says this:
'Receive this as a warning. This forty day journey cannot be taken lightly. It is a challenging and often difficult process but an incredibly fulfilling one. To take this dare requires a resolute mind and steadfast determination. It is not meant to be sampled or briefly tested and those who quit early will forfeit the greatest benefits. If you will commit to a day at a time for forty days the results could change your life and your marriage. Consider it a dare from others who've done it before you.'
I suppose the question is, who has done it; in that sense who wrote it? I mean what's the background of personal examples that has forged if you like, the content of this book?
Alex: Well we were praying in 2005, and we had just completed the production of Facing The Giants. We were asking God not for just a new story line for the next movie, but for an idea that would draw the culture back to him. We didn't know what the theme would be and so the Lord began taking us down this path of focusing on marriage and my brother and I began researching, 'what is a marriage really supposed to look like?' And then we had the idea for the Love Dare. So we began researching and trying it ourselves and it was very difficult and we have good marriages; but when you have to die to yourself, when you have to put yourself second and love your spouse like Christ loved the Church, which scripture says we should do, you begin to realise how important and how difficult that could be, but how wonderful it can be and what it does for your marriage. It drew us close to God; so we began doing it and inviting other couples to go through it with us to try it to sample it. We were amazed at the results. By the time it was actually published three years later in the fall of 2008, there were a number of people that had tried it.
Jonathan: So the book came before the film?
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