by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor – The Dove Foundation
Alex Kendrick, the director of the new film, “Fireproof”, the follow-up movie to “Facing the Giants”, spoke a few days ago with Dove about the new release.
I began by telling Alex that I like “Fireproof” as much as “Facing the Giants”, maybe even more.
“That’s fine with me,” he laughed.
Alex both acted in and directed “Facing the Giants” but this time around he focused on his directorial duties. Dove asked him about his approach to making the new film, “Fireproof”.
“Well, when we did our first two movies, ‘Flywheel’ and ‘Facing the Giants’, almost by default I played the lead. Since we use all volunteers, it’s hard to get an experienced Hollywood actor, especially a Christian one at that, to come to Albany, Georgia and to work for free for a couple of months” he laughed. “So I ended up being the lead because I was there. All I knew up to that point was acting and directing. This time it was a real pleasure to have someone like Kirk Cameron who had seen ‘Facing the Giants’ and called and said, ‘If you ever do another movie I’d love to be on your team and help anyway I can.’
So he was willing to fly out here and audition. We knew of his ministry, Way of the Master, and of his really strong stand for the gospel today, so he came and auditioned. I told him that I wasn’t interested in anything close to Mike Seaver (his character from Growing Pains) but I was interested in an experienced actor who loved the Lord and he said, ‘Well, let’s forgot Mike Seaver and start from scratch’ and we did. ‘I was really blessed to direct someone who had that innate ability to understand acting. And Erin Bethea who plays his wife in the movie also did a fine job I thought. She is an up and coming actress, and was a member of our church.
I do enjoy acting but I love to direct and craft the story and it was just a privilege for me to do that on ‘Fireproof’”.
“What kind of early feedback are you receiving about the film?” we asked.
“It’s been overwhelming so far. You always have naysayers but I would say 95 percent of the comments have been really encouraging. In the pre-screenings we have had people just sit there and weep. We’ve shown it to so many pastors, and we’ve had pastors re-dedicate their marriages with their wives after seeing the movie. Last week there was a gentleman at one of the pre-screenings that stood up as the movie was ending and just started weeping out loud and said, ‘Please somebody, come pray for our marriage. I’m living this story’. A group of other pastors got up from their seats in the movie theater and just walked up and surrounded him and started praying for him.
Hearing reports like that is really the reward for asking God to use this type of story. We hope that the movie does well in the theater, but not knowing that on the front side, we’ve already determined Lord, as long as you use it for your purpose, we’re going to praise you no matter what the box office says.”
“What challenges did you face in getting this movie made?” we asked Alex.
“With every movie, the more experience you get the more comfortable you are making decisions with directing, camera angles, lighting, and things like that. That was something I was excited about. The two scenes that were very hard logistically were the train scene and the house fire. I had never done anything like that to this point. And working with the train, the wrecked car, fire trucks stopping traffic, all the volunteers and by-standers we needed, and to make sure everybody was safe, and still get highly emotional, realistic performances, was quite a challenge. It took us two days to film that, two full days, from dawn to dusk, and logistically that was a challenge but it came out well.
The house fire—when you’re actually working with real fire, that’s also a challenge. We had one house, it was a real house but it was old, and we had permission to burn it down. You can only burn it down one time!” he laughed. “So we shot all of the interior footage first, and then physically burned the house down. We shot all of the exterior shots last so we could just let it burn. And of course when it’s burning, you only have so long to get the shots you need. There were some shots which I did not get that I wanted, but I did get enough to tell the story which I was very grateful for. No one got hurt, which was an answer to prayer and just having all of these locations for free to use was amazing”
Alex added that as far as directing, the apology scene that happens late in the movie and the conversion scene were two scenes they attempted to handle very carefully because they were so integral to the story. He added they prayed a lot over those two scenes so that God would use them to touch hearts and change lives.
Alex said that he believed they made a lot of mistakes as they were going through the learning process of making “Flywheel” and that “Facing the Giants” was better and he believes this film is yet another improvement in the on-going movie-making process.
“We’re learning as fast as we can,” he said. “In between movies we’re reading articles, talking to professionals and going to conferences. We’re doing everything we can to lift up the highest standards when we tell these stories. We’re asking God for stories that change lives and we want to represent our Lord well. We don’t want to settle for anything less than excellence. We’re not happy to stay where we are, we want to keep improving.”
We asked Alex what scenes he was especially pleased with. “I loved the humorous scenes; they were obviously a lot of fun to shoot. Because of the personalities of our team and our actors they were fairly easy to shoot too. We were trying hard not to laugh on camera. I am grateful for the way the apology scene came out. It moves me every time I watch him get right with his wife and lay everything on the line. I also like the bay scene when she finally comes back to him at the end of the movie. Those are touching scenes about the redemption and the transformation that God can make in people’s lives. I enjoy telling those kinds of stories.”
“Fireproof” opens September 26, and is a movie with great entertainment value as well as a clear message. The viewers will laugh and weep, and possibly see themselves in some characters. We awarded the film five Doves, our highest rating and encourage you to see it at your local theater.
Read Dove’s Review of “Fireproof“