Published On: Wed, Mar 28th, 2012

Alex Kendrick Interview: From Pastor To ‘Courageous’ And Beyond

Alex Kendrick is the writer, director and actor responsible for four Christian films: Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous.

I had a chance to talk to the filmmaker about his journey and what’s next for Kendrick and Sherwood Pictures.

BRANDON JONES: Alex, let me thank you taking time out to talk to me. Let’s start at the beginning…How did you go from Pastor to filmmaker?

Alex Kendrick as Jay Austin in Flywheel, the Sherwood feature film

ALEX KENDRICK: I was one of twelve associate Pastors at Sherwood (Baptist Church), Stephen is also, and in 2002 I read a survey by George Barna. It was a National Poll which stated movies, TV and Internet were the most influential in our culture.

This was the evidence I needed to present to my Pastor (Michael Catt) a plan to shoot the first low budget feature, Flywheel. It was meant for the community, but it sold so well…kinda took on a life of its own.

BBJ: Where did you get the idea for Flywheel?

ALEX: Honestly, prayer.

I prayed for a plot of Lordship. There are good ideas and then there are God ideas and that became the plot for Flywheel.

We wanted something shootable and we recently bought a minivan for the family, so I wondered ‘What if the sales person had not been honest?’

He was, don’t get me wrong, we prayed right there on the lot, but that was the seed.

BBJ: I found a great interview with Christians in Cinema, here you discuss your next film, Facing the Giants, so I don’t want to be too repetitive. What I want to touch is your growth (and Stephen’s) as a writer and then Alex Kendrick the actor. Beyond the obvious David and Goliath theme of the film, you bring a realism that EVERYONE can connect to: dead rat in the floor, frustration at work, trying to have a baby – where did all of that come from? How did you develop these ideas?

ALEX: First, we want the actor to relax into a role and to be yourself. We prefer to cast people similar to the roles and say ‘If you feel like you are acting, it will come out.’

We pray through the entire script and try to be real.

BBJ: Then there was Fireproof. How you get Kirk Cameron onboard?

ALEX: Kirk had seen Facing the Giants, contacted us, offered to help us. He auditioned for Fireproof and he shares our faith, our passion.

He is wonderful, identified with him on so many things. He was very gracious and has a sheer passion and joined us on the film.

The Fireproof kiss has an interesting backstory as Kirk Cameron vowed to never kiss any woman other than his wife.

BBJ: There is a great back story, trivia note from Fireproof: Kirk will NOT kiss another woman, other than his wife, acting or not, so how did you manage this in the film?

ALEX: We all have that standard.

Kirk found in Hollywood that they’d always try to give him a girlfriend, but as he grew in his faith, he wanted to honor his wife.

So, we had his real life wife, she is about the same size, we shot it in silhouette…shot it several times.

It came across real well in the movie.

BBJ: The film is about as in your face as a Christian movie can be about the destructive aspects of pornography, especially on a marriage. What was your goal in dealing with this topic within the film?

ALEX: Our view is pornography is a cancer. Giving men something without responsibility and it destroys the integrity, the spirit man inside. It’s dangerous in men and cheapens the relationship with the wife.

It’s such an unfair comparison to the wife, degrading.

In marriage counseling, this is very common. I decided to do it as carefully as possible and prayed that this would minister to men.

BBJ: Ken Bevel, he’s key in Fireproof, but he really shines in Courageous?

ALEX: Ken is retired Marine of twenty years. Now he’s an associate Pastor at our church. I met Ken prior to Fireproof and he was high caliber.

It was the first acting he’d ever done and he was willing to learn, to practice. We just love his heart, think he’s great and if I have my way, he’d be in most of our films.

BBJ: Maybe I got ahead of myself with Courageous, I have it at the top on my Best films of 2011. When you evaluate the film, how do you see it?

ALEX: The progression, Flywheel was in standard def, we were learning, striving to improve the production excellence. We keep pushing ourselves.

“Courageous” is the highest production value of the four films, but we haven’t arrived yet. People may say we have…

If this was Major League Baseball, we’d be at the AAA Minor League level. If (we had arrived) we’d be in right field (laughs)

We’re so grateful for the ministry, and praise God for the fruit.

BBJ: I mean no disrespect to any of the other bands or songs in any of your films, but the Casting Crowns song, Courageous, was an anthem for this film. How did that whole piece fall into place.

ALEX: It’s very important to me that the bands, singers are seeking the Lord and they (Casting Crowns) sought the Lord.

I’ve already got a relationship with them, so Mark Hall of Casting Crowns and I had a number of conversations, sending lyrics back and forth. I didn’t write any of it, but I’d say “I love it” or “Can we redo these?”

Mark’s songs are in three of the films and if the Lord keeps the door open, I’ll be asking to pray about another song.

Robert Amaya was a treat as Javier Martinez, here as the ‘Snake King’

BBJ: What about the “Snake King”…the ‘Snake King scene, who came up with that?

ALEX: My idea.

My brother and I go back and forth on scenes. I pitched it, he loved it.

Robert Amaya, who played Javier, was such a joy to work with, loves the Lord. He had to sell it to make the scene work and he did.

He is in October Baby, shooting another role in Texas, and really expanding his career as a Christian actor.

BBJ: I was going to ask what is your Favorite Movie, but that’s so cliché. Let’s suppose you and your wife have the night alone, movie night, just the two of you, what do you watch?

ALEX: Romantic one, probably Jane Austen…Pride and Prejudice.

The dialogue makes you think, it was clever back then.

I like a lot of the classics, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chariots of Fire, a Frank Capra movie.

We rather spend time with the family doing something creative things rather than watch TV.

BBJ: What’s next you and Sherwood?

ALEX: I was just in The Lost Medallion, a Christian film due in September. It was filmed mostly in Thailand.

My brother and I are writing a book, “Love Dare for Parents” which should come out in the fall. Parenting is a totally different type of love, so it deals with that.

Beyond that…Pray. Pray and when the Lord says “Go!”…we will go.

For more information, get copies of these films, check out the Sherwood Pictures website:http://sherwoodpictures.com/

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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Have Your Say
  1. Karen Abercrombie previews ‘War Room’ and her role as Ms Clara - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Want to go back in time and check out our 2012 interview with Alex Kendrick in the wake of Courageous – click here […]

  2. Kendrick Brothers preview ‘War Room’ the power of prayer, making impact faith-based filmmaking - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Want to go back in time and check out our 2012 interview with Alex Kendrick in the wake of Courageous – click here […]

  3. ‘War Room’ brings the ‘weapon’ of prayer to theaters in August - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Check out our interview with Alex Kendrick back in 2012 after Courageous  – click here […]

  4. ‘Courageous’ creators Alex and Stephen Kendrick start new Christian film company - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Check out an interview with Alex Kendrick here […]

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