Fireproofing Your Marriage
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, hear from brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the director and writer of the film Fireproof, a realistic drama about a fire fighter in the throes of a divorce. Hear why the Kendricks, who also created Facing the Giants, feel it's absolutely necessary for believers to be involved in filmmaking and why they choose covenant marriage to be the theme of this latest production, which will be appearing in theatres in the Fall of 2008. Also joining them is actor Kirk Cameron, who plays the role of Lt. Caleb Holt in the movie.
Today on the broadcast, hear from brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the director and writer of the film Fireproof, a realistic drama about a fire fighter in the throes of a divorce.
Bob: Late this summer in movie theaters all across the country, moviegoers are going to be introduced to Caleb and Katherine Holt, a husband and wife whose marriage is going up in smoke.
Caleb: I'm the one out there working to pay this mortgage, and I pay for both of the cars.
Katherine: Yeah, and that's all you do. I pay all of our bills with my salary.
Caleb: Which you agreed to do. That's fair. Do you not like this house? Do you not like your car?
Katherine: Caleb, who takes care of this house – me. Who washes all the clothes – me. Who gets all the groceries – me; not to mention I'm helping my parents every weekend. I've got all this pressure on me, and the only thing you ever do for anybody is for yourself.
Caleb: Let me tell you something, you don't know the first thing about pressure. All right, do you think I put out house fires for myself? Or rush to car wrecks at 2 a.m. for myself? Or pull a child's body out of a lake for myself. You have no idea what I go through.
Katherine: Oh, yeah, but what do you do around here? Either watch TV and waste time on the Internet. You care more about saving for your stupid boat and pleasing yourself than you ever did about me.
Caleb: Stop! I'm sick of you, you disrespectful, ungrateful, selfish woman! How dare you say that to me! You constantly nag me, and you play the life out of me! I'm tired of it!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we will take you behind the scenes on the set of a new movie, "Fireproof," and tell you all about it. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Have you ever been on a movie set, you know, where they're actually filming a movie, and the director says, "And – action!"
Bob: What movie?
Dennis: You know, I don't even know the name of it, but Barbara and I were taking some time off a number of years ago, and we came upon a coastal community where they were shooting a scene that was occurring in the rain.
Dennis: And they had a pipe that was a gigantic – I mean, it was, like, irrigation pipe that was held up by, like, a 100-ton crane.
Bob: So they were making their own rain, you say?
Dennis: They were making rain, and the raindrops were monster raindrops, and they had this old-time car that was like in the '30s, and we watched them over and over again get in and out of this car in the midst of the rain. And they turned this little, cozy, coastal town into a cloudy, rainy scene where this couple were getting out of this old, black car.
It was fascinating because they demanded "quiet on the set," and it was a big set, and you really began to understand why they needed so much money to make a movie, because there were a lot of people standing around with their hands in their pockets.
Bob: Well, I had the opportunity last fall to go be on a movie set for a new movie that's coming out in August, a movie called "Fireproof," and it was a lot of fun. We went to Albany, Georgia, and met the folks who made the movie, "Facing the Giants."
Dennis: Yeah, that would be kind of a question is you didn't go to Hollywood to a set …
Bob: Albany, Georgia.
Dennis: Where is Albany, Georgia, Bob?
Bob: It's in southwest Georgia, and I don't think you can get there from here, but I did, and met these guys. They made the movie, "Facing the Giants." This is their brand-new production called "Fireproof," and one of the reasons that I went is because this movie is all about marriage and how a marriage can endure and survive the challenges that come along. The couple in the movie is thinking about throwing in the towel and instead they get challenged to consider going the distance in their marriage.
It was a lot of fun. I got to me not only the director and the writer but some of the actors in the movie, and I was there in the living room in the house when they said, "And – action!" and then said, "Cut." You know, and I got to see the scene get recorded.
Dennis: Did you see the fight scene where the couple had the argument?
Bob: No, this wasn't the fight scene. This is a scene near the end of the movie that you haven't seen yet. I kept waiting for them to say, "Now, we need a lot of extras in this scene. We need some people in the background," but they weren't shooting that kind of a scene, so I didn't make it into "Fireproof."
Dennis: You should have offered to hold a Chick-fil-A cup with your Diet Coke in it and be back in the back.
Bob: Back offstage?
Dennis: Yeah, be back in the scene.
Bob: That's right. This film, as I said, is coming out in August, but we thought it would be fun to give our listeners a little behind-the-scenes look at the movie, "Fireproof."
Dennis: That's right, and this comes from, interestingly, a new podcast that you've created called "Ear Reverent."
Bob: Yeah, that's Ear-reverent.
Dennis: I said it right, Ear Reverent.
Bob: We're taking a …
Bob: We're taking a little time on this podcast to explore issues related to art and culture and life and faith and theology and kind of mix it all together and see what comes out.
Dennis: So what's "Ear-reverent" all about then?
Bob: Well, it's about any of those themes. Just kind of whatever strikes my fancy on a particular day.
Dennis: So whatever you want to talk about, and you're just talking about it kind of outside the box a little bit.
Bob: That's right, and on this particular episode, we introduced our listeners to this movie, "Fireproof," and so we thought we ought to share it with our FamilyLife Today listeners as well.
Here is a portion of the podcast, "Ear Reverent" talking about the movie "Fireproof."
In 2006, Sherwood Baptist Church located in the southwest Georgia community of Albany, produced a movie called "Facing the Giants," and through Sony Entertainment, that movie found its way into local theaters and became a surprise hit. Made on a budget of $100,000, the movie went on to earn $10 million in domestic box office and millions more through DVD sales.
The creative force behind "Facing the Giants," was two brothers – Stephen and Alex Kendrick, both of them on the pastoral staff at Sherwood Baptist Church, an unlikely place to find two aspiring filmmakers.
Stephen: When we both landed at Sherwood, Alex told the pastor when he was hired, he said, "I want to make Christian movies one day. I want to use my talents for the Lord, and I have a passion for that." When the national poll came out from George Barna, I think it was in his book, "Boiling Point," that said that people in our culture are allowing movies to influence them more than they are church.
Well, that grieved us, and we're trying – we've got the best message in the world, and we want to impact people the most and, at the same time, we've had this love for moviemaking but no training.
Bob: So what do you do if you have a desire to make a movie and no experience? Well, I guess you do what Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney used to do in their movies – you just round up your friends and say, "Hey, let's put on a show," at least that's what Alex and Stephen Kendrick did. They put together $20,000, bought a little bit of equipment and made a movie called "Flywheel."
Alex: We took 2 Corinthians 5:17 – "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new is come," and that is what that movie is about – the first half of the movie is a man before Christ. You see how he treats his wife, how he treats his kids, how he treats his business, his own heart, his selfishness, his pride, his dishonesty.
Man: I didn't think you had it in you, Jay.
Jay: What's that?
Man: The ability to stiff a minister.
Alex: And then halfway through the movie, he comes to Christ. In the last half of the movie, you see how Christ is the hub in the center of flywheel, in a sense, of his life that ends up impacting everything else, and his business changes, the persecution, in a sense, changes because he is now trying to walk in integrity, operate by the Golden Rule.
Bob: His marriage, his family …
Alex: Everything, yes. And so him going to his wife and saying, "I want to be a godly man. I want to be a leader of this home. I want to lead our children well." Men walked out of the theater weeping.
Man: I am resolving to let Jesus be Lord of my life.
Stephen: It has been an incredible ride of watching God glorify Himself by us saying, "Lord, we are the little boy with five loaves and two fish. We have given you our feeble talents and abilities." But, as Corinthians says, God choses, often, weak people; He chooses poor people; He chooses unwise people; foolish people; in order to magnify himself so that everybody knows he did it. You know, he had to have been the one who did it.
Bob: The thing that made the movie, "Flywheel" work is the same thing that made Sherwood Pictures' next movie, "Facing the Giants" work. Neither film had Academy Award-winning caliber direction or acting, but both movies had compelling stories.
Director and screenwriter, Alex Kendrick, says when he is working on a movie, rather than thinking about what the scene is going to look like, he is focusing on how the story is being told.
Alex: No, I do see the arc momentum and emotion of the story. I am very particular about what is the audience thinking at this point? What emotions are they feeling at this point? Because I believe if you can get to somebody's emotions through their heart, you can more likely present a message of hope, of the Gospel message, that they'll receive it more if they're not hard, you know, if they're not hard-hearted.
Bob: Once again, this is Alex's brother, Stephen Kendrick.
Stephen: I try to follow the Golden Rule with how we write. I don't want to go sit down and watch a boring Christian movie with bad acting and hate it. You know, when you hear the Gospel message, and you leave. I want to sit there with my family and laugh and enjoy it and be caught up in the characters of the story and want to watch it over and over and over again.
I do want to get to their emotions so that we can talk about the value of marriage, the gift of Jesus Christ, where we have to surrender our sin, conviction to get right with God and what we're accountable for. So we do that by getting to their emotions then presenting truth unapologetically.
Jesus told great stories. Every night when I put my kids in bed, they want to hear a story. And so we're compelled by that but, as you know, Jesus used parables to communicate eternal truth in the context of everyday life.
Bob: The fact that the first two films from Sherwood Baptist Church have been seen by hundreds of thousands, even millions of people is a Hollywood story in and of itself. A classic David versus Goliath kind of tale.
Right now, Sherwood Baptist Church is hard at work on their third movie. It's called "Fireproof," and for the first time it will feature a professional actor in the lead role – Kirk Cameron plays firefighter Caleb Holt who has been taught as a fireman, you never leave you partner in a fire, but whose marriage is about to go up in smoke.
This movie will be released in theaters all across the country in August of 2008, and although there is strong momentum behind the making of this movie, screenwriter and director, Alex Kendrick, has not forgotten the real secret to the success of Sherwood Baptist Church's movies.
Alex: We've begged God for His ideas, His inspiration, His creativity, and when some of those ideas come, you know there is something to it, but you don't know to what degree it's going to bear fruit.
So all you do is say, "Lord, I feel like this is from you, we're going to pour ourselves into it, we're going to do it, but the fruit has to come from you." But you never know exactly what that fruit will be.
Bob: Once again, this is Alex's brother, Stephen Kendrick.
Stephen: God is a better writer, he's a better director than Stephen Spielberg, He's a better producer than Jerry Bruckheimer and George Lucas, and he ultimately has to be the writer, director, producer of these movies. And so people say, "Well, what about this scene?" or "What about this?" You know, are you giving God credit for that?
Well, what I say is everything good about these movies, God did. Everything that's not so good, we have to take credit for that.
You know, I think one thing that excites me is to put yourself in a scenario where what you're going to do is absolutely going to fail unless God intervenes, which is a scary place to be. With "Giants," it was a bigger movie, more lights, more crew, small in comparison to Hollywood, but I remember thinking when we were shooting the championship game, we had 42 angles and shots to get and two days to do it, which is impossible, and we did it. And I remember begging God, "Lord, you have to help us get these shots because we're working with amateurs, a lot of them can't reproduce the same actions and emotions every single time you need them to," and so I remember thinking, "God, you have to get us through this," and He did.
And for this movie, the train wreck scene and the house fire scene are bigger than me. I think putting yourselves in a scenario where you have to say, "God, we're depending on you. You have to come through with this, You have to protect us, You have to get these shots and the power of the story." I think that pleases Him because we're not doing it believing that we're arrogant and proud and now we're going to pull this off.
We are going to pull it off, but we recognize it's going to come with His help.
Bob: In the first two films Sherwood Baptist Church made, the lead role was played by writer and director, Alex Kendrick. He was Jay Austin, the crooked car dealer in "Flywheel," and he was the coach of the football team, Grant Taylor, in "Facing the Giants." When it came time to cast the lead, Caleb Holt, in the new movie, "Fireproof," the team made a decision to go with television and movie veteran Kirk Cameron.
Kirk: After watching "Facing the Giants" and helping to promote that movie, getting people to go see it, I said, "Is there any other movie you're doing? Man, I'd love to help you out." And they said, "Yeah, there's this next movie called "Fireproof," and it's about a fireman whose marriage is just about over. He's getting a divorce, he gets right with God, and then tries to win back the heart of his wife. But he said, "You're not right for the lead. I see this big hoss of a guy, I mean, 210 pounds of twisted steel and muscle who can go into a burning house and put two children on his back and haul them out in record time."
But there's a couple of atheist firefighters back at the station that I think you might be able to be good for. I thought, "Hey, whatever, I just want to be part of your production." And several months later, I got a call from Alex Kendrick saying, "Kirk, send me your tape. I want to see what you've done. I want the most emotionally tense stuff you've ever done." And I sent him a tape of an episode I did on a show called "Touched by an Angel," and he said, "All right, we'd like you to come audition for the lead role." I thought, "But what about the skinny, what about the beef, I’m not the hoss."
Bob: Where's the beef?
Kirk: Yeah, where's the beef? It's not here. And I said, "Why don't you play the role, Alex. You've been in your last two movies, why quit now? You're doing a great job." He said, "Well, I'd like to focus on directing, and we just can't find the right guy for the role. Maybe God's leading us to you.
And when he came and read, Kirk was a fit for the role. He was knocking it out of the park. He was the big, important scenes, especially in the last half of the movie, he was doing such a good job. There was this sense of God is in this.
Caleb: Stop! I'm sick of you! You disrespectful, ungrateful, selfish woman! How dare you say that to me! You constantly nag me, and you're playing the life out of me! I'm tired of it!
Stephen: And so we came back to, "Lord, you're surprising us with how You are sending people out of nowhere to fill these spots, and we believe you're in this." And so Alex is very excited about Kirk. He's doing such a good job.
Kirk: So I started working out, put on 10, 15 pounds, I started studying with an acting coach and preparing for this role, and, boy, it has just been exciting, so far.
Bob: Now, why would you study with an acting coach given all the acting you've done, for a movie like this?
Kirk: Well, I've never done a role like I’m doing in fireproof.
Bob: Kirk Cameron had a lot more than just an acting coach helping him out with this role. He had a lot of people who were praying.
Kirk: The best footage they got was when the people were praying while they were filming, and so to walk into your dressing room and find your wardrobe and see that, hanging next to your white socks is a prayer card from one of the ladies at church who is praying for you today, and know that all of the cast and crew around you are working for free, for the most part, and you don't deal with crabby, grouchy people who are upset that they're not getting paid enough.
Alex: And we are in an environment at Sherwood Baptist Church where we have a pastor who believes that we can touch the world from Albany, Georgia; we have a unified church, which Scripture says in Psalm 133 that God commands His blessing to fall where brethren dwell together in unity, and that we have a praying church.
Bob: Between now and August, when the movie, "Fireproof" opens in theaters, there will be a lot of people who are continuing to pray and a lot decisions that will still need prayer. And what might happen if "Fireproof" somehow broke box office records and if, all of a sudden, the Kendrick brothers were the hottest thing in Hollywood? How would Alex and Stephen respond if the offer to do a major Hollywood motion picture came their way?
Stephen: First, the fear of God comes into me as soon as I hear that, because I know the enemy wants to always mess up what God is trying to do. So I'd say, "Hold your horses, we're going to have to get before God and say, "God, do you want us to do this or not?"
Bob: We'll miss meals on this one, I'm sure.
Stephen: Right, so we have – the Lord has done a great thing in that Jim McBride, our executive pastor, Michael Katt, our pastor, and then Alex and myself, we don't make any major decisions unless all four of us pray about them, and we agree together, and the Lord gives us a peace about it. So we're under authority with that.
It was a big decision to partner with Provident. They're a Christian-run company, but they are owned by Sony, a secular company, and so we really had to pray through that, and God gave us clear direction, "Yes, I want you to do this."
It's interesting that Nehemiah had a secular king fund the project, in a sense, for him to go rebuild the wall. And so – but he got with God, and God gave him the freedom and the permission to do that.
We have had some awesome opportunities open up for us, for us to meet with some huge media people to go on some TV shows, and we'd pray about it, and God would say "No." And some of the marketing people would say, "What are you thinking?" No?
Stephen: This is an awesome opportunity. It is in the world's eyes, but as we pray through it, God gave us a check about it and said, "Don't do it," and we said, "Yes, sir, we trust You," and He has blessed that. We know that keeping Him happy is the most important thing we can do.
A prayer we pray often is keep us useable and keep us humble before you help us not to take credit for what You're doing. Help us not to get foolish and fall into temptation and blow this, everything that You've entrusted us with. And so with a decision like that, I would come back to, "We'd have to stick it in the prayer incubator, you know, and spend a lot of time praying about it and then do whatever God says to do."
Bob: Well, what we've been listening to is a portion of a podcast called "Ear-reverent" talking about the movie, "Fireproof." I feel like we ought to be playing some of the "Entertainment Tonight" theme music, you know, dadaddadadaaa. "Hi, I'm your Hollywood reporter."
Dennis: What people need to do is mark their calendars for August. It's being released, we don't know the exact date yet, but …
Bob: In theaters all across the country, and you and I have had a chance to see about a half a dozen, maybe a little more clips from the movie, and this is going to provoke some things in people's hearts, don't you think?
Dennis: It will. In fact, some of these scenes are absolutely riveting. We showed one of them to the couples who speak at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, and this is a pretty opinionated group of people. I mean, more than 65 couples from all across the country, all different kinds of professions, it was deathly quiet in this scene where they had this giant argument and they start heading toward divorce. But I don't want to spoil the rest of the movie for you.
Bob: We've started showing some of these scenes at some of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences this spring, and …
Dennis: Can we put one of these scenes, Bob, on the FamilyLife.com just to give our listeners a sneak peak?
Bob: Because I've met the director and the writer and the actor –
Dennis: You can pull it off?
Bob: I'll see if I can make arrangements to get a clip on our website for our listeners. Actually, you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click on the right side of the screen where you see "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about the movie, there is a link to the "Fireproof" website, and I think they've got the trailer for the movie up on the "Fireproof" website so you can get more information about the movie and when it's coming out.
You'll also find information on our website about a study that we put together as part of our Homebuilders couples series a number of years ago. It's called "Protecting Your First Responder Marriage." This is a Bible study that we put together for couples where one person in the marriage is either a police officer or a firefighter or an EMT medic, an ambulance driver or a first responder to a medical crisis.
There is great stress on those individuals and, as a result, great stress on their marriages, and this couples study is called "Protecting Your First Responder Marriage," and if you know couples who are police officers or firefighters or EMTs or other first responders, can I encourage you to go to our website, FamilyLife.com? Order a copy of this Bible study and give it as a gift to the married couples you know where one of them is a first responder and encourage them to go through the material either with other couples in that same situation or just to do the study together as a couple. That kind of gift can be a life-altering, life-transforming kind of a gift, and it's a great expression of your love and your concern for those folks.
Again, there is more information on our website at FamilyLife.com about the Homebuilders study guide, "Protecting Your First Responder Marriage," and, as I said, there is also a link on our website to the fireproof website so you can get more information about the movie and if you want to find out more about the podcast, Ear Reverent, there is a link there on our website as well. If you'd like to listen to some of our past episodes or start subscribing to the Ear Reverent podcast, again, go to FamilyLife.com and click on the right side of the screen where it says, "Today's Broadcast," and you'll find all the information you need about these resources or if it's easier, just call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and someone on our team can make arrangements to have the Homebuilders study sent to you.
Well, tomorrow we are going to talk about a growing challenge in our culture todayo, and that's the issue of young men, teenage boys, who are being pursued somewhat persistently by teenage girls. What do we do, as parents, to help coach our sons and our daughters in this kind of a culture. We'll talk about that tomorrow, and I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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