Hollywood Uplink – September 2008: FIREPROOF – One Hot, New Movie!

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September 2008

        Issue: 17:9

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FIREPROOF – One Hot, New Movie!

by Dick Rolfe, CEO – The Dove Foundation®

Fireproof - In Theaters Fall 2008In 2002, two brothers who are pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA read a Barna Research story which stated that media have the greatest impact on the upcoming generation. Churches, which used to be the 3rd or 4th greatest influence with children and teens, have now dropped out of the Top 10. Alex and Stephen Kendrick decided to make movies to reach out to unchurched people and help get them interested in the things of God.

The Kendrick brothers gathered volunteers from area churches and neighborhoods and produced FLYWHEEL, a story about a dishonest used car salesman who is caught and forced to return money to customers he cheated with some surprising results.

Then, in 2006, Alex and Stephen produced their first theatrical release. FACING THE GIANTS is the story of a losing football coach who becomes inspired and leads his team to an amazing victory both on and off the field. With a very modest budget by Hollywood standards of $100,000, this little-movie-that-could reached blockbuster status, grossing over $10 million on fewer than 450 screens nationwide. Christian bookstores were getting requests for the DVD faster than they could keep them in stock.

Unafraid to tackle the hard topics, Sherwood Productions is about to launch FIREPROOF, a moving story of a marriage in disarray. Christian actor, Kirk Cameron portrays Caleb Holt, a hard working fire fighter squad captain and inattentive husband who is more interested in intimacy with the Internet than his wife, Catherine (Erin Bethea). The story is well-balanced, in that Catherine is attracted by the romantic gestures of a doctor in the hospital where she works.

The story typifies many marriages in jeopardy; too many distractions which lure marriage partners away from their original covenant. The most common complaint among troubled married couples is, “If my spouse would only change everything would be fine.” According to Sherwood Baptist Church senior pastor and executive producer, Michael Catt, “the issue [in FIREPROOF] is not ‘I need to fix my spouse’. The issue is ‘I need to fix me’.”

Caleb’s father presents him with a Love/Dare Journal which he used when his own marriage to Caleb’s mother was in trouble. The Journal is a series of 40 daily instructions on ways to treat Catherine so that she understands how significant she is in Caleb’s life. The premise is that the heart often follows the head in such matters.

According to Alex Kendrick, the whole point of making FIREPROOF is to “point people back to God, who designed the covenant of marriage, and get away from the cultural view, which has almost reduced marriage to just a piece of paper.” He added, “If we love our spouses based on whether they deserve it, then we’ll often feel like we’ve fallen out of love.”

The community of Albany came out in a unified commitment to help Sherwood Church make FIREPROOF within their strict budgetary guidelines. More than 1/3 of the church’s 3,000 members volunteered in every capacity from on-screen extras, cooks, to babysitters, and prayer coordinators. Residents of Albany also pitched in. The regional hospital permitted filming to take place in their new wing at no expense. The city provided two fire stations and use of a half-million dollar fire engine.

Jim McBride, Erin Bethea, Dick Rolfe & Kirk Cameron on the set of FireproofI was invited to visit the set of FIREPROOF during filming. I was especially impressed by the kind and gentle demeanor of the cast and crew; not always what you find on the set of many films. The integrity of everyone involved is remarkable, from the prayers before and after each scene, to a rule that unmarried couples may not kiss in any scene in a Sherwood Productions movie. That rule presented an interesting dilemma for the ending of this film which is all about reconciliation in a marriage. The producers however found a very clever way to get their shot without compromising the rules.

If you have any doubts about whether to see FIREPROOF, take it from me…you’ll find the price of admission is more than money well-spent, it’s an investment well made.

Read the Dove Foundation’s 5-Dove Review of Fireproof

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