Interview: Writer/Producer of “Fireproof” – Father of Six – Has Revitalized Thousands of Marriages
By John-Henry Westen
February 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Meet Alex Kendrick, a man of unshakeable faith in God, whose incredible success both in filmmaking and publishing can only be described as miraculous. Alex has six children, the eldest age ten and the sixth due to be born in April. He and his brother Stephen have no professional training in film and writing and are in full time ministry at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.
The pair’s third film, “Fireproof,” starring Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame, was the highest-grossing independent film of 2008, with over $33 million in theatre sales, beating out such films as Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (starring Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz), and “Milk,” starring Sean Penn.
That success is all the more stunning considering the film was made with an all-volunteer, 1,200-person cast and crew, drawn mostly from Sherwood Baptist church. Fireproof is the third major film venture by the church’s volunteer production crew, dubbed Sherwood Pictures. “Flywheel,” produced in 2004, has sold 200,000 DVDs. “Facing the Giants,” in 2006, earned $10.1 million at the box office and has sold more than 1.6 million DVDs in 58 countries, in 14 languages.
Apart from the films, the Kendrick brothers have produced a book on strengthening marriages, which is currently sitting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. The Love Dare book, as it’s called, now has 2.2 million copies in print, and the book itself was a plot device in the film Fireproof.
But far more than the box office success, Kendrick cherishes the spectacular results of the book and film in terms of lives touched. Thousands of emails and testimonials report relationships restored, marriages saved, love recaptured, and divorces dissolved. The film and book give inspired step by step advice on working to salvage a marriage, even tackling the rampant yet rarely discussed marriage-killer, pornography.
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with Alex Kendrick, finding he was more than willing to share the secret of his success – God. Kendrick, who opened each filming session with prayer, told LifeSiteNews.com that his deep faith came from the example of his parents.
“We have a dad and a mom who have really been consistent in their faith,” he said. “My father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984, had a brief time when he sank into depression and determined that he was going to praise God either way. That you don’t just praise God when He blesses you, you praise Him because He is God. And that was a lesson that I watched him live out. And that has a lot to do with the way we make movies today.”
Kendrick’s second film, “Facing the Giants,” has as its theme just that – praising God in good times and bad.
“We did not have to deal with any of the common issues in families – drinking, drugs or immoral material. We didn’t have to deal with any of that,” said Kendrick. “My father decided when he was a young man, after seeing those types of things wreck the former generations in my family, he decided he was going to be sold out to the Lord.”
“Fireproof” deals with eliminating from family life such harmful items or behaviors, including pornography. The controversial subject was handled in the film for the sake of adults, but in a sensitive fashion so as to leave children virtually oblivious to it. LSN asked Kendrick about taking on that touchy topic.
“Well,” he said, “in ministry, you tend to deal with re-occurring problems among your members and even in the community and because of cable television and the internet, men can get away with looking at immoral material by piping it into their homes. They don’t have to sneak into a store and buy a magazine any more. … As we studied and got counsel from professional counselors and as we studied what it did to marriages and families, we just realized how devastating it is and that pornography has become one of the primary reasons that couples get divorced.”
The natural question for fans of the films is what’s up next. But in answer to that, Kendrick could only respond with his own version of the clichÃ©”God only knows.” But for Kendrick it’s no clichÃ©, it’s just a fact. “I do not have any pre-conceived notions about what all our movies are going to be about,” he said. He described the process as going through a “season of prayer” where the brothers ask: “God, what would you have us to do.”
As to what the brothers are up to now, the Lord, he says, has told them to, “Get your house in order.” With six young children, and his brother’s four, the heavenly advice is sensible. He explained we are “just pouring into our children and our families and making sure that physically and spiritually we are the healthiest that we can be.”
Kendrick explained that between him and Stephen, and another brother, they have 15 children. Asked about his views on large families and contraception, he replied: “You know what, my wife and I have made all of those decisions seeking God’s word and seeking Him in prayer and He has always been very clear. So, for us, He has always lain on our heart what he says in Scripture, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ and ‘The Children are a blessing of the Lord.’ We decided that we wanted a full quiver and it is in His hands. He says very clearly in Scripture that He is the one that opens and closes the womb and so we have rejoiced in the family that He has given us.”