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About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with movie producers Alex and Stephen Kendrick about their new release, "Fireproof", appearing in theaters September 26. Tune in to hear why they decided to write a movie about marriage, and what motivates them to continue to make films that reach others for Christ.
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with movie producers Alex and Stephen Kendrick about their new release, “Fireproof”, appearing in theaters September 26.
Bob: After they made the movie, "Facing the Giants," Stephen Kendrick and his brother Alex were wondering, "What's next?" Stephen remembers the day Alex came to his house with the idea for the movie, "Fireproof."
Stephen: You know, everybody's got a good idea, we found out, you know, for a movie. Everybody's got a movie plot, and they're all sending them to our church for us to make into a movie. We've got tons of scripts coming in, you know, and so – but that was the one, I remember, we were praying, "God, we need your idea. We need something that is clearly of You," and that day it was so of the Lord. It was one of those bright, shining moments where God was saying, "You need to make this movie, you need to write this book, 'The Love Dare,' this is of me."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll learn about the movie, "Fireproof" today from the producer, Stephen Kendrick and his brother, the director, Alex Kendrick. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We've got a movie star in the studio with us today. You know, movie star?
Dennis: We do.
Bob: Yeah, and his brother, too, but the movie star …
Dennis: His brother, too?
Bob: Yeah, yeah, got the movie star …
Alex: Not true.
Bob: No, it is true. You say that's not true.
Dennis: His shadow, do you think?
Alex: No. You know, when I was little, they always said my outs and runs don't count.
Dennis: Well, we have a couple of guys who are making a difference across the country through the use of movies, and they come from the most unlikely place you can ever imagine, writers, producers, and directors of movies would come from – the church.
Bob: I thought you were going to say Albany Georgia, which could be …
Dennis: I was waiting for you to go ahead and say it for me, Bob. Alex and Stephen Kendrick join us on the broadcast. Alex, Stephen, welcome.
Alex: Thank you, it's good to be here.
Stephen: It's an honor to be here.
Dennis: I want to know which one is the smartest.
Alex: In what area?
Dennis: They are brothers, and it's interesting to see the work that they've done. Some of you are familiar with the movie, "Flywheel," "Facing the Giants," in fact, do we have a little clip there?
Bob: Well, yeah, this is the scene where the star – were you even in "Facing the Giants?"
Stephen: I was the stunt double.
Alex: He was. He's not kidding.
Bob: For what – Steve, where would we see you?
Dennis: Hold it, what did you call yourself.
Stephen: I said I was the stunt double.
Bob: For who? You were his stunt double?
Stephen: I was Alex's stunt double. When you see the wide shots …
Alex: He did some football shots.
Stephen: Yeah, that's true. When you see the wide shots, Alex is really directing, and so I'm playing Alex on the sidelines. So when suddenly I'm three inches shorter, or Brent Taylor is three inches shorter, that's me.
Bob: Well, this is the scene that listeners who saw "Facing the Giants" will undoubtedly remember, because it was a hot day of football practice, and the team really wasn't getting it, right, Coach?
Bob: They were not following what the Coach was trying to get them to do.
Dennis: And that was Alex, by the way, who was the coach.
Bob: Coach Grant Taylor. I want to say Taft, but he was – that was the real coach at Baylor, right?
Alex: I think so.
Bob: So you took Grant and Baylor and made Grant Taylor out of it?
Alex: Yeah, actually, Grant – I used the name Grant because that's Stephen's son's name, his oldest son. And so we actually have each of our kids' names in all of our movies.
Bob: Is that right?
Dennis: In fact, when I met Alex just a few minutes ago, again, I thought, "Wait a second. Where is his shirt for the locker room scene?" I mean, you know, I just …
Bob: You expect him to have a whistle and a cap and clipboard.
Dennis: Yeah, that's exactly right.
Bob: Well, this is where you called on one of your linemen to give it all for the team, and here is what it sounded like.
Player: What, you want me to go to the 30?
Coach: I think you can go to the 50.
Player: The 50? I can go to the 50 if nobody's on my back.
Coach: I think you can do it with Jeremy on your back, but even if you can, I want you to promise me you're going to do your best.
Player: All right.
Coach: Your best.
Coach: You're going to give me your best?
Player: I'm going to give you my best.
Coach: All right, one more thing – I want you to do it blindfolded?
Coach: Because I don't want you giving up at a certain point when you can go further. Get down. Jeremy, get on his back. Get a good, tight hold, Jeremy. All right, let's go (inaudible). Keep your knees off the ground. Just your hands and feet, there you go, a little bit left, a little bit left. Good strength.
Dennis: Do you want to describe what's happening here, Bob?
Bob: I guess – yeah, I guess we should. In the middle of this scene, the lineman's got somebody on his back, and he's crawling like a crab, right?
Stephen: That's right. His knees can't touch the ground.
Coach: You've got to keep moving, let's keep moving, let's go, don't quit until you've got nothing left!
Stephen: So only his hands and feet are touching the ground.
Bob: Got it.
Dennis: And so he started at the goal line?
Stephen: Correct. He's supposed to go 30 to 40 yards.
Dennis: Where is he now?
Stephen: About the 40 yard line.
Dennis: So he's already done what he hoped to achieve.
Stephen: That's right, and he's very tired. It's a hard thing.
Alex: I did it myself, and it was, like, "This thing is really hard."
Coach: Don't quit on me! Your very best! Keep driving, keep driving, there you go!
Dennis: He is now past the 50.
Stephen: Somewhere in there, yes. And the other players are starting to stand up off the bench because they can't believe he's gone that far.
Dennis: But he's blindfolded so he doesn't know where he is.
Stephen: That's correct.
Player: It hurts!
Coach: Don't quit on me. Your very best, keep driving, keep driving! There you go, there you go!
Player: He's ahead of me!
Coach: I know what he said.
Player: I'm about out of strength!
Coach: You need to go sit with your buddies and find more strength, but don't you give up on me, Brock, you keep going, you hear me? You keep going, you're doing good, you keep going! Do not quit on me! You keep going!
Player: It hurts!
Coach: I know it hurts! You keep going, you keep going, it's all hard from here! Thirty more steps.
Stephen: So he's breaking right now.
Coach: Come on! Keep going!
Player: It hurts!
Stephen: And Alex's voice is breaking right now.
Coach: Come on, come on, keep going. You promised me your best, your best! Don't stop! Keep going!
Player: It's too hard.
Coach: It's not too hard! You keep going! Come on, Brock, give me more, give me more, 10 more! Ten more! Ten more! Keep going! Don't quit! Give me more!
Player: I can't do it!
Coach: You can! You can! Five more! Five more! Come on, Brock, come on! Don't quit! Don't quit! Come on, Brock! Two more, one more!
Stephen: So he collapses, and he does not know where he is.
Stephen: He's still wearing the blindfold. Now it's taken off.
Coach: Look, Brock, you're in the end zone.
Stephen: And he looks up for the first time to see that he went the entire length of the football field.
Dennis: And he didn't think he could make it 30 yards.
Coach: You are the most influential player on this team. If you walk around defeated, so will they. Don't tell me you can't give me more than what I've been seeing. You just carried 140-pound man across this whole field in your arms. Brock, I need you. God's gifted you with the ability of leadership, don't waste it. Can I count on you?
Stephen: So his perspective just changed for other players from thinking there's no way we can accomplish what we're set out to accomplish, and now when he's pushed, and he goes through the fire, he realizes that there is more to what he thinks.
Bob: And that's the turning point for the team …
Stephen: That's correct.
Bob: And the turning point in the movie, and anybody who has seen it never forgets that scene. That's a great powerful scene. In fact, we showed it to guys at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, because it has a marriage application as well.
Alex: Unfortunately, it does.
Bob: You don't give up, you keep going, and you don't quit, and guys get the message.
Dennis: Yeah, and isn't your father the real inspiration for this?
Stephen: Absolutely, our father, Larry Kendrick, he has multiple sclerosis. He's in a wheelchair, and he still, every morning, gets up and spends two hours to get ready and goes off to work and oversees three campuses at a Christian school, at Cumberland Christian Academy, and just won't quit. And that was one of his mottoes to us growing up was "never give up, never give up."
Alex: And because of his paralysis, he only has a certain amount of feeling in his arms and his fingers but because of his paralysis, basically waist down, a normal person would have given up years ago, and he doesn't.
Stephen: And he inspires so many people because of that message.
Bob: I know we jumped in and started talking about "Facing the Giants," which is the movie that you're best known for, but we do want to let listeners know that one of the reasons we're talking about this is because this weekend a brand-new movie is opening up in theaters all across the country. It's a movie called "Fireproof," that we've seen, and we're very excited about this film. Tell our listeners about the movie.
Alex: You know, at Sherwood Baptist Church, Pastor Michael Catt challenges us to think in terms of reaching the world from Albany, Georgia. 2002, I asked him if we could do a movie. We learned that movies, television, the Internet, were among the three most influential factors in American culture, and I was shocked at how Christians are not pursuing those avenues, which are the most influential.
Now, Internet is getting better, and so I asked him if we could a movie. That turned into "Flywheel," our first movie, a little $20,000 picture. It ended up getting in our local theater. It was supposed to last one week, it lasted six.
Stephen: It outran 12 Hollywood movies that came and died in our local theater.
Alex: The Blockbuster picks it up – every Christian television network that we know of has showed it over all the world. We were hoping to sell a couple thousands DVDs. . We're approaching 200,000 DVDs sold, and just – the Lord just blew us away with the response. And so we made "Facing the Giants," which was a $100,000 budget. It did a little over $10 million in the theater when Sony picked it up, and which was just an act of God. And then it sold about 1.6 million DVDs in 56 countries now.
And so we said, "Lord, if you've opened up the door, we want to be responsible of this platform. What do you want us to do next?" And this was our prayer – "God, give us a plot that would impact culture so that a movement would start that would please You? What do you want the focus to be?" And that was our prayer for a while.
Stephen: For months.
Alex: Yeah, we prayed for a season – "What would you have us to do?" And after praying that for a while, I remember jogging around the block one day, and the Lord said, "Go after marriage." And I was thinking, "Marriage?" You know, "Is that it?" And then He gave me this concept of a young husband who is about to get divorced whose father challenges him to what's called a "love dare," which is a 40-day period of applying biblical principles of love, and the young husband doesn't want to do it. But to honor his father, he starts doing it, and it changes his life. He realizes he does not understand what love is. And the fact that he didn't create love, he doesn't get to define it. Who gets to define what love really is? The one who created it.
I jogged over to Stephen's house, my brother, and I said, "Stephen, what do you think of this?" And he looked at me, and he said, "That's it. That's bull's eye," and we, together, began praying and developing this story about "Fireproof" and the love dare, and it is our hope that God uses it, among the other wonderful ministries that are already focused on family and marriage that he would begin to raise up a national dialog and a standard for what marriage and love needs to be.
So we're excited about "Fireproof" coming out this weekend, and just – it's our prayer that God does something far above and beyond what we could ask for or imagine.
Dennis: Stephen, what did you think when he jogged up in front of your house? I mean, I actually kind of smiled a little bit – I wonder how many times he jogged up with ideas.
Dennis: Was this number 12?
Stephen: Well we had bounced around a bunch of ideas, and I've got one about a nursing home, Alex has gone one about a pastor in a church. We've been batting forth a King Arthur tale that we've been working on. But, you know, everybody's got a good idea, we found out, you know, for a movie. Everybody's got a movie plot, and they're all sending them to our church for us to make into a movie. We've got tons of scripts coming in, you know, but that was the one. I remember, we were praying, "God, we need your idea. We need something that is clearly of You," and that day it was so of the Lord. It was one of those bright, shining moments where God was saying, "You need to make this movie, you need to write this book, 'The Love Dare,' this is of me."
Alex: And we learned there's a difference between a good idea and a God idea. There's a ton of good ideas out there, but, God, we want your ideas, and that's what we were looking for.
Dennis: Personally, I couldn't be any more passionate about this, because if there has ever been a time in our nation's history – and I mean this – if there has ever been a time in our nation's history when we needed to have a national dialog about marriage …
Alex: Yes, it's now.
Dennis: It's today. And the thing you said that the husband didn't get to define what love was.
Alex: That's right.
Dennis: He had to go to a definition that was above him.
Alex: That's exactly right.
Dennis: That was given by God and, you know, there's a reason why the book, the bestselling book in history, the Bible – there is a reason why it begins with a marriage. Why it ends with a marriage. And it's interesting – you've selected this because I just wonder – I wonder if God could use this to maybe stir the church, frankly – beginning there.
Stephen: That's right.
Dennis: Forget the culture at this point – just to start the dialog in the church around – what do we believe about marriage, what is it, what does the covenant mean, what does it stand for, and how do we create marriages that go the distance?
Bob: And our listeners need to understand that this is not a documentary you've made that addresses different views on marriage and what it ought to be. This is a story, it's a love story – a husband and wife who are struggling, don't see a way to reconcile and hold things together, and the question is, are they going to do what most couples do at that point, which is just no harm, no foul, we don't have any kids, nobody's going to get hurt, let's just get a divorce, call it a mistake, and move on. And because of a father's intervention in this case and saying, "I want to challenge you to a dare," things start to turn around and, of course, I don't want to give away the end of the movie, but I was smiling when it was over.
Dennis: Yeah, and the thing I like about the move, too, again, just to brag on it, because I've seen it twice – is that the Gospel is really – and I hate to use the word "clever," but it's the clear truth of the Gospel presented in a very distinct, relevant way to the theme of the movie.
Bob: Yeah, it doesn't feel like it was stuck on or as an appendage to something that it wasn't about.
Dennis: And so you could take a neighbor or a family member or a friend or your adult children to go see this movie, and it's not only going to give them a new definition of love, it might give them a new definition of life.
Alex: That's right. And just to give them a teaser, this young husband who has been rejecting this concept of Christ's salvation and God – he doesn't want anything to do with religion. His father, who got saved late in his life, is now challenging him to this 40-day love dare to win back the heart of his wife. He's doing it reluctantly, and he complains to his dad halfway through the love dare, "Why isn't she responding to this? I'm doing everything written in his dare you've given me, and how am I supposed to demonstrate love over and over and over to her when she constantly rejects me?" And that's the open door for his dad to say, "You are doing the same thing. There is someone who has demonstrated love to you, and you are constantly rejecting it."
Stephen: And you can't give what you don't have.
Alex: That's right.
Stephen: And, ultimately, if you don't have a relationship with Christ, you don't have the engine producing a godly unconditional love in your heart that the Holy Spirit brings for you to pour back out on your spouse.
Bob: When you guys are writing a scene like that, and you wrote this movie together, right?
Bob: As you're writing it, and you're working on it, and you're bouncing dialog back and forth, are you just doing, "Yeah, yeah, that's perfect."
Alex: You know, what it's like? Stephen and I have never started a day of writing where we didn't start on our face in prayer saying, "God …
Stephen: "Give us the scenes."
Alex: "We are not qualified to be writing this, we're not experienced, we're not trained enough. You have a story – use us to write this down, use us as tools." And so it is – they come as epiphanies as we're praying and working on this, it's like God gives Stephen or me or something together, and it's like that. We get excited about a concept.
For example, when we were writing the movie, it became crystal clear, love is not based on the one that's being loved as much as it is based on the one doing the loving. In other words, we do not deserve salvation. There is nothing we do to deserve God's love, yet He loves us. So the love is based on Him being so loving, not on us being lovable. A marriage is the same way. A husband should love his wife whether he thinks she deserves it or not, because there will be days he thinks, "She was awesome today. She was great, she encouraged me," and there's days, he says, "You're not being a good wife today" and vice-versa, wife to husband. You love because you choose to not because you think they deserve it.
Bob: Did writing this movie and then writing "The Love Dare" book that you wrote as a part of it, did it challenge both of you in your marriages?
Stephen: Well, loving somebody requires you to die to yourself, and you can't be selfish and loving at the same time, and so we're studying what 1 Corinthians 13 says about love, is we're writing "The Love Dare" book, and as we're working through those things, and it keeps requiring us to have to die, you know? I can't be rude, you know, I can't be impatient, I can't be jealous and selfish and all of those things, and so our wives were like, "Okay, this is really good, now you're going to need to apply it in your own marriage."
Alex: It's self-surgery. You know, Steve and I, we're looking at what 1 Corinthians 13 says, what Ephesians 5 says, what Psalms says – all these – everything we could find in Scripture, and I want to thank Stephen, he did so much of these research – everything we could find in Scripture about a relationship and about love, and when you start writing it down, you realize, "My goodness, I thought our marriage was good. I'm still way off the mark," and it is self-surgery to do this, but it is very good, very enlightening.
Dennis: You know, as you guys were talking about this, and I'm reflecting back on that scene where the Gospel is presented in the movie, I really did think about the mystery that Paul spoke about, and the importance marriage carries in a culture, in a church, that we make good on our promise. And in Romans, chapter, I believe, it's 12, the last verse there, it says do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Alex: That's right.
Dennis: And I just continued to chew on that verse, and I've thought about your movie, and I thought how this is going to bring courage to a lot of people. I just appreciate the way you did it.
Bob: And can I just say for the guys who are listening, there are some scenes where cars go fast and stuff gets wrecked and …
Alex: Fires and explosions.
Bob: So there's some cool stuff in the movie, too. I want the guys to come see it this weekend, too.
Dennis: It's about a fireman.
Bob: It is.
Dennis: I mean, and guys are going to identify with this fireman.
Alex: And the reason we called it "Fireproof" is because when something is fireproof it doesn't mean that fire will never come, but that when it comes it can withstand it. And if there is anything that fire comes to, it is sure marriage. Marriage is going to go through one trial after another over the course of its life, and I have a good marriage, but we undergo fire from time to time. How can we make our marriage fireproof?
When I understand how to love my wife, it's not based on her performance, it's based on my choice to love her – same with her to me. It's still based off of two basic things, which is patience and kindness. When I start applying patience and kindness to my marriage, that alone makes a tremendous difference.
Bob: The first two things that 1 Corinthians 13:4 talks about – love is patient, love is kind. That's where you start, isn't it?
Stephen: Well, in the Old Testament God says, when He revealed Himself to Moses, when He said "Show me your glory," He said, "I am abounding in lovingkindness, and I am slow to anger," which is what patience is. That's where Paul got it, was from God's speaking to him saying, "This is who I am," and those are the first two things that Paul says love is, and then he gives us a list of what love is not. You know, in 1 Corinthians 13.
Dennis: And what I would say to that listener who needs the love dare right now without going to the movie, because it could be that in the community where the listener is living right now, the movie is not showing yet. But, you know what? If enough of you called the movie theater, they'll bring it.
Alex: As a matter of fact, they can go to Fireproofthemovie.com, and there is an action squad button. If they click on that it tells them how to get the movie to a theater that it's not currently scheduled at.
Dennis: Even if you can't get the movie there, "The Love Dare" – for that couple that's looking for a great way to begin to breathe some real life, the kind of life God desires for a marriage relationship to have, I think it's going to be found in a lot of people going through these 40 days and finding out what real love is all about.
Bob: Well, and, of course, we've got copies of "The Love Dare" book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and you might want to order a copy now so that you go see the movie this weekend, and it can be there next week, then you can begin going through the book and begin living out the love dare in your marriage.
Again, there is information about the book online at FamilyLife.com. When you get to our home page, on the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." Click where it says "Learn More," and that will take you to an area of the site where there is information about the love dare, there is information about the book, "Fireproof," which is the novelization of the movie, and there are links to the "Fireproof" website and to the "Fireproof my Marriage" website.
So if you want to find out if the movie is going to be in a theater near where you live starting this Friday night, again, go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click on the right side of the screen where you see "Today's Broadcast," and all the information you need about the resources and about movie times, all of that. There are links available there to get you that information.
Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can let you know how you can have resources you need sent to you or how you can get the information you need.
And then let me mention one additional resource that's available this month. We had a conversation not long ago with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs who wrote the book, "Love and Respect," which you hear Catherine and Caleb in the movie, "Fireproof" talking about the need for love and respect. It's one of the themes that weaves its way through the film.
We talked with him about the whole issue of communication in marriage and what husbands and wives can do to improve their marital communication, and this month we want to make the two CDs that feature that conversation available to listeners who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
When you make your donation online at FamilyLife.com, if you'd like to receive the CDs as our way of saying thank you for your support, simply type the word "code" – c-o-d-e – into the keycode box on the donation form. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone and just mention you'd like the CDs on communication. We're happy to send them out to you. It's our way of saying thank you for your financial support of this ministry. We appreciate your partnership with us, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Well, tomorrow we're going to talk more about making movies that glorify God with Stephen and Alex Kendrick. I hope you can be back for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. I also want to thank our friends at the WinShape Foundation for helping us get the word out about the "Fireproof" movie. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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