“Never Leave Your Partner Behind”
About the Guest
Join us today for the broadcast when brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the producers of “FlyWheel” and “Facing the Giants", talk with Dennis Rainey about their newest release, “Fireproof", appearing in theaters September 26. “Fireproof", starring Kirk Cameron as Fire Chief Caleb Holt, is a film that takes a closer look at a marriage going down in flames. Find out more about the making of the film and how God keeps opening doors for them to make movies with a redemptive message.
Join us today for the broadcast when brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the producers of “FlyWheel” and “Facing the Giants”, talk with Dennis Rainey about their newest release, “Fireproof”, appearing in theaters September 26.
Bob: In the new movie, "Fireproof," director Alex Kendrick introduces us to Caleb and Catherine Holt, a couple whose marriage is in trouble.
Alex: Our goal is that we want audiences to identify with the friction. If they see themselves up on the screen, then when we take this couple through this journey of coming to know Christ and doing the things that they need to be doing as a couple, husband to wife, wife to husband, and hopefully will take them with us, and they'll say, you know, "I've been here, that's also where I need to go."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We hear today about a new movie, "Fireproof." It could have an impact on tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of marriages. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You know, one of the things we used to do with our family on Friday nights, we'd have movie night over at our house, and we'd pull out the old classic movies from back in the '30s and the '40s, and really introduce our kids to the Golden Age of Filmmaking, as they call it. And our kids grew up watching a lot of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies, where were all the same plot – somebody would get in trouble, and then they'd say, "Let's put on a show," and they'd put on a show, and they'd bail them out of trouble.
And I was thinking about that, because the Kendrick brothers are kind of like Mickey and Judy. They've just said, "Let's put on a show," and now you're into your third movie with these shows you're putting on, right?
Dennis: Yeah. Stephen and Alex join us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, guys.
Stephen: Thank you.
Alex: Thank you so much.
Dennis: They have co-written, produced, and directed a new movie called "Fireproof," and you've got to tell our listeners because I think the average layman does not know – what is the difference between directing and producing a movie?
Stephen: We didn't k now, either, Dennis, until we made "Facing the Giants," and so – directing is the person who is sitting there in front of the actors and telling the story on the screen. The producer is behind the scenes, organizing all the equipment, working out all the scheduling, doing the shoot list, the production design for the next shot …
Alex: The resources.
Stephen: Yeah, it brings all the ingredients to the kitchen so that the director can cook.
Dennis: So who mixes it together to get a final edited copy? I mean, what – is that the producer and the director together then?
Stephen: Alex is also the editor on our movies, and I come along and polish a little bit, but he's the primary storyteller. God has really given him a gift in storytelling.
Bob: So you take all of the scenes that you've shot and, by the way, listeners may not realize that movies are shot out of sequence.
Bob: I was on the set the day that you were shooting one of the last scenes in the movie, but it was the first week or two of production that you were doing this.
Dennis: By the way, I have to tell you about this. I was the one that was asked to come down and see this, and Bob slipped out of town without me knowing.
Alex: Oh, uh-oh.
Dennis: He got down there and basically what he was trying to do, guys, he was trying to audition. He wanted in the movie. But he came back …
Stephen: I know people, Bob. We can make it happen.
Bob: Can you do something? Just a crowd scene is all I'm looking for.
Stephen: No, we …
Dennis: Seriously, he came back thoroughly impressed with the job you and your team had done down there and just said, "Dennis, I think this is something we need to be a part of."
Alex: Wonderful, and we're extremely grateful. We shoot scenes by location. You were talking about shooting it out of order because it's more efficient that way. So, yeah, we'll shoot a scene early in the movie and then one at the end of the movie, so it's harder on our actors because there is no chronological emotion going on.
But, yeah, Stephen mentioned that I'm also the editor as well as director, but what he did not say is the special effects you see in the movie are mainly Stephen. He gets jazzed about, "All right, how can we add fire to this scene," or "How can we add more cars and more people to the scene?" He's done that for our last two movies.
Dennis: When did you first notice this destructive pattern in his background? You know, as his brother?
Alex: We made movies growing up in our backyard. They all have the same plot, chase 'em down and beat 'em up. And we'd run around with kids in our neighborhood saying, "Okay, you're the bad guy, and I'm just going to come and pummel you in this shot." But Stephen did a lot of stunts. As a matter of fact, he told my parents, "When I grow up, I want to be a stunt man." And my parents got a little concerned about this. They knew I wanted to make movies and Stephen's going to be a stunt man, but as we got older, got in the ministry, the Lord called us into that, we have a lot for ministry. We never lost the desire to tell stories using this avenue, and the Lord has been so good opening up these doors for us.
Bob: Stephen, can we talk about some of the action scenes in this movie, because this was all new for you guys.
Bob: You've made a movie about a car dealer that didn't require any pyrotechnics. You made a movie about football players that required some pretty sophisticated shooting for these crowd scenes and these big football games, but to have a house on fire was something completely – or a train barreling down the track coming right at a car that's in the middle of the – that was all new stuff for you guys, wasn't it?
Stephen: Well, we wanted to connect with men, too. We had this great storyline about marriage and about saving marriage, and we wanted to deal with the issues that couples go through, showing the fireworks that happen at home. But we're guys, you know, we love movies. We want to sit there and laugh and cry and be on the edge of our seats, and so it was like kids in a candy shop for us to say, "Hey, let's have some explosions in this movie. Let's have some things catch on fire."
And so when Bob came down, Dennis, you know, and we said, "Bob, we can put you in this movie and set you on fire," you know? He refused. Don't you want to be in "Fireproof?"
Dennis: Our listeners have heard him on fire here many times.
Bob: That's right.
Dennis: Tell me where you got the train, because there's a scene in this thing where one of the firemen is trying to pull this car off the tracks and, I'm telling you what, it was so close, I've now seen the movie twice, and it's like I'm sliding on my chair away from the aisles trying to get away from the train. Where did you get the train?
Stephen: We had 16 locations in this movie and God, after prayer, gave us all of them for free. And one of those things that we needed was a train, and one of our local train station guys heard about us making the movie and heard about the train scene, and he said, "I want to be a part of this." He said, "I'll drive the train," you know? "I'll move it forward and backwards as much as you want to. Let me – let our train, you know, be in this movie. It was great, it was great.
Dennis: It's a big train.
Alex: Yes, it is.
Dennis: I mean, it's just not like you go out and buy a train. So what do you do, rent it by the hour?
Alex: He donated it. You know, and that brings up a good point. God – one of a dozen – dozens, actually, of prayers. You know, we got the train for free, we got a wing of the hospital for free. We got the fire department and the EMT and the police department help for free. Every location we shot in the movie was for free.
You know, when we begged God to do something on this movie, I mean, our whole church, Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, was just praying. God opened up so many doors, it almost became ridiculous how many prayers He was answering.
Bob: But, you know, if I decided tomorrow that I wanted to shoot a scene with a train coming, and a guy getting his helmet knocked off by the train or a house on fire, you can't just go to the Internet and say, "How do you shoot a scene with a guy crawling through a smoke-filled building?" And you didn't learn that on any Hollywood set. Where did you learn how to do that?
Stephen: Well, we haven't really learned anything, you know, we …
Dennis: You actually burned down a house over there, did you?
Stephen: We did, we did. We know how to burn down houses. It's a unique situation because we haven't had the training or the experience or the money, you know, and the Lord called us to do it and in obedience to Him, we've seen God lay tracks in front of a moving train on these sets by providing everything we needed every step of the way, and that's one of the ways that we knew He was confirming that we were in His will and following Him because He kept sending perfect timing, tens of thousands of dollars, or a train to show up to help us.
Dennis: We've talked about everything except the entertainment value of this movie in terms of the story line. It's a compelling story line of a fireman who has basically been neglecting his wife. And I have to tell you, there's a scene that I want to play now for our listeners. In fact, we used this scene at many of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences in our conflict resolution message, where we equip couples to know how to handle conflict in their marriage, and I have to say I think there's more Christian marriages identify with this scene in the white hot emotional intensity that Kirk Cameron, who is the male star of this movie, demonstrates than many of these Christians who attend our conferences are willing to admit.
Bob: Alex, set this scene up for us. What's going on?
Alex: Caleb and Catherine have been married seven years. He's a fireman, she works at the local hospital, and neither of them know the Lord, and after seven years, it's come to a point where they realize this marriage is not working.
As they come to the decision to divorce, and this is right before the decision, things are just explosive. They've got so much ammunition at each other, they're blaming each other for so much – "You don't appreciate me," and et cetera, et cetera, our marriages out there know what we're talking about that this conversation happens in the movie right before they make a decision to end it all.
Bob: And he's just come home, and there is nothing for dinner.
Alex: That's right.
Catherine: What are you doing?
Caleb: I see you left me no pizza.
Catherine: Caleb, I just lit that candle. I like the way it smells.
Caleb: Well, I don't. Did you leave me any dinner at all?
Catherine: I assumed you were eating with Michael.
Caleb: Did it not occur to you that there are two people living in this house, and both of them need to eat?
Catherine: You know what, Caleb, if you would communicate with me, maybe I could have something for you.
Caleb: Why do you have to make everything so difficult?
Catherine: Oh, I'm making everything difficult? It seems to me like I'm the one carrying the weight around here while you're off doing your own thing.
Caleb: Excuse me? I'm the one out there working to pay this mortgage, and I pay for both of the cars.
Catherine: 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?
Catherine: 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.
Catherine: Oh, yeah, but what do you do around here other than watch TV and waste time on the Internet. You know what? Looking at that trash, how you get fulfilled, that's fine, but I will not compete with it.
Caleb: Well, I sure don't get it from you!
Catherine: And you won't, because 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 blame the life out of me! I'm tired of it! If you can't give me the respect I deserve – look at me! Then what's the point in this marriage?
Catherine: I want out. I want out.
Caleb: You want out? That's fine with me!
Bob: I'll tell you, it gets really quiet everywhere that scene is shown, doesn't it?
Alex: Yeah, it sure does. And, sadly, a lot of people, if not most marriages, identify with that type of friction.
Stephen: We've had men in their 60s in the back of the theater weeping because that's how they treat their wives.
Dennis: You know, the first time I saw that scene, and I have now seen it several times, it really felt abusive.
Dennis: And I do think, and I have no statistical data to back this up, but my guess would be well over half of Christian marriages have experienced a scene like that couple experienced. Now, it may not have the threat of divorce as they were talking about there at the end, but just white-hot, emotional anger unloaded.
Bob: Well, and our listeners could just hear it, they couldn't see it, but he was in her face. He was physical with her. He had her pinned against the wall. There was the threat of physical violence in the midst of that scene.
As you set that up, were you thinking, "We've got to take this to the limit," or – I mean, what was going on in your mind?
Alex: Well, one thing was – our goal was that we want audiences to identify with the friction. If they identify – if they see themselves up on the screen, then when we take this couple through this journey of coming to know Christ and doing the things that they need to be doing as a couple, husband to wife, wife to husband, and, hopefully, will take them with us, and they'll say, "You know, I've been here, that's also where I need to go."
Stephen: And provide them an example. You know, the first part of the movie is the investment and the connection. The last part is the payoff, and we want men and women to be able to walk out of the theater and say, "I now have seen what I need to do in my relationship. I've got an example now to follow."
Dennis: Yeah, and I think a lot of men identify with how he was feeling toward her – not feeling respected.
Dennis: Because for whatever reason, perhaps the wife has grown cold to the lack of love, the neglect, and it was clear he had neglected her, and so she wasn't respecting him, and it was this vicious cycle that they were in.
Bob: There is moment in that scene where he is right in her face, and he's shouting at her, and she's looking down and away, and he says "Look at me." And just that line, and she's jolted back into looking at him.
Alex: It's very degrading.
Bob: And you're wondering, "What's coming next? Is he going to strike her? Is he going to get physical with her?"
Dennis: Yeah, I want to comment on that, because – and I don't know if you guys intended this to happen, but I wonder if this is not going to be used by God for a man to be exposed to his own behavior in like a mirror, where physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse – he's going to finally see how disrespectful and how demeaning it is to a woman.
Alex: That's exactly right.
Dennis: And I pray that God is going to use this to convict many men as to how they're treating their wives.
Alex: And the reason this kind of friction happens in a marriage, when they both feel like they have ammunition toward the other one, and they're not acting in kindness, they're not acting with patience, they're not acting in selflessness, then you're going to have these types of wars. We are imperfect people, and you will always have ammunition on the other person if you look for it.
But, you know, God has ammunition on us, but He chooses to forgive, He chooses to say, "Here is a way out, here is a demonstration of love through Christ," and that's the whole point of "Fireproof." When this movie comes out this weekend, the people would see this and see themselves and then see what they need to do.
Stephen: It's interesting, Dennis, you used the word "mirror," because I believe that God uses a spouse to be like a mirror to us, and He will reveal to us how selfish we are, how greedy we can be, how we'll claim our own rights, and there's nothing like a wife to reveal to her husband his real nature. You know, if the people who respect him at work lived with him and had to be in that kind of relationship with him, they may realized who he is, but a spouse brings it out of us, and God did that on purpose, because a marriage relationship is supposed to really be a discipleship to the Lord to form us into the image of Christ, and if we'll see it that way rather than resisting this person, we'll say, "God, you're revealing things that are not like Jesus that are in me that need to be dealt with so that I can more like Him."
Alex: That's right.
Bob: Let me say something about the actors who are involved here. People know the name Kirk Cameron because of his TV background, and he's been in movies before. As far as I know, he's the only person in this film who has a Screen Actor's Guild card in his wallet. Everybody else is an amateur. First time in a film for all these folks, is that right?
Alex: Yes, for most of them, and let me say this, too. All three of our movies at Sherwood Pictures that we've done, everybody has done it as a volunteer, including Kirk. When Kirk came down, and we began talking to him, he had seen "Facing the Giants." He contacted us and said if you ever do a move again that I can help you with, please let me know. This is the type of ministry I want to help with.
We gave a donation to his Camp Firefly ministry, but he pocketed nothing. He came down and did this movie for free just because he believed in the ministry of this love dare, of the "Fireproof" movie.
Bob: And he had to audition for the part.
Alex: Yes, he did, and you know what? He was humble enough to do that. He's done several movies and, of course, "Growing Pains" for years. He's known all over the world. He came down and got in line and auditioned like several hundred other people did, and that showed his humility and his desire for ministry.
Dennis: One of the stories, and I'm not going to say where in the movie this occurs, but there is a time when Kirk Cameron kisses his wife, and …
Alex: In the movie.
Dennis: In the movie, all right? And because of his stance in terms of who he's going to kiss, why don't you share with our listeners what happened when you shot that scene?
Alex: In all three of our movies at Sherwood Pictures, we've not had two actors kiss that weren't married in real life, because we want to honor real-life marriages. Kirk has that same standard, and when he came there was not initially a kiss in the script, it was just an embrace. But it became an option for his wife, Chelsea, who is an actress, to come down to Albany, Georgia, and double for that scene.
And I don't want to give everything away, but the way we shot that scene, we tried to do it creatively where when he kisses his wife in the movie, he is also kissing his wife in real life.
Bob: I'm guessing that's the first stunt double kiss scene …
… of Hollywood.
Alex: Maybe so.
Stephen: But we were able to honor the marriage as part of the plot in the movie and honor his marriage in real life by doing that.
Dennis: You know, I ran into Kirk, and he is a follower of Christ, as all of your actors are, and it was interesting, somehow he'd run across Homebuilders. He and his wife had been in our small group Bible study, Homebuilders, as a couple. I have no idea how he found it, but, Bob, back in Nashville, earlier this year, I ran into him and had a little brief conversation, and it's interesting, as actors go – you know, and you guys are who have the ability behind these cameras to shoot these scenes. Here is a fireman. You know, you think of a fireman being, you know, stocky and strong – he's a little guy, but he looks big on the screen, the way you shoot this thing.
Bob: And he bulked up for this movie, didn't he?
Stephen: Yes, he did. He gained some weight, he started working out for us, and he really stepped up to the role of being Caleb Holt. And when people look at this movie, they're surprised, because they say, you know, this is not Mike Seaver, this is not Buck Williams from the "Left Behind" series. This is Caleb Holt. This is a totally different guy.
I think that God, in His grace and all the prayer that was going into every shooting scene that we did shows up on the screen in Kirk's performance.
Dennis: Yeah, and he really does fit the part. I mean, you know, on the screen I thought he really was a fireman and never once ever thought he didn't belong in that uniform and those rugged scenes that you guys had.
You know, we've talked a lot about the entertainment value of the movie, and it does have a strong component of that. It also has a redemptive message, though, not only of presenting the Gospel clearly but also the 40-day love dare, which we haven't talked about today, but it's a book that his father gave him to begin to learn how to properly love his wife while his marriage was on the rocks.
And, I'll tell you, Bob, this book, I think, is going to be used in a lot of marriages even that are good and strong marriages to make them stronger. It's just practice stuff from the Scriptures.
Bob: Yeah, and the great thing about the love dare is that if only one of you in the marriage is really committed to trying to do something and making a difference, if you say, "I don't know that my wife and I could read a book together. I don't know that she cares to try to make this work. I don't know that my husband really cares." The love dare gives you a roadmap you can follow if it's just you.
Now, if both of you are trying to make it work, you can still follow the prescription in the love dare, but this is a book that any husband or any wife who says, "I am praying for a breakthrough in our marriage," this is a book that can help make that happen and, of course, we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. On the right side of the home page, there's a box that says "Today's broadcast," and if you click where it says "Learn More," that will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about the love dare, there's more information about the movie, "Fireproof," there's a link to the site that will show you what theaters it's going to be in when it opens tomorrow. There is also information about the book version of "Fireproof," the novel that follows the same story as the movie, and then there is a link to the "Fireproof my Marriage" website where you can find out more resources available to help you strengthen your marriage.
Again, all of that is on our website, FamilyLife.com. Click on the right side of the home page where you see "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you where you need to go. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make arrangements to get the resources you need sent out to you.
One of the areas in marriage where things can deteriorate quickly, in fact, it's demonstrated in the movie, "Fireproof," as you see Caleb and Catherine missing each other when they try to communicate, is this whole area of communication. We need to learn how to more effectively express ourselves to one another in marriage, and how to more effectively listen to one another in marriage.
And we had a conversation not long ago, Dennis, with Emerson Eggerichs who wrote the book, "Love and Respect." He has also written a book on communication, and we've talked with him about that. This month we're making available the two CDs that feature that conversation with Dr. Eggerichs as our way of saying thank you to those folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
When you make a donation this month, either on our website or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY, you can request these CDs, and we're happy to send them to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support. If you are donating online, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, if you'd like the CDs, type in the word "code," c-o-d-e. And if you're calling 1-800-FLTODAY to make your donation, just mentioned that you'd like the CDs on communication. Again, we're happy to send them out to you. We appreciate your partnership with us and your financial support of this ministry, and we appreciate you getting in touch with us.
Well, tomorrow we're going to talk more with Alex and Stephen Kendrick about movies and about "Fireproof" and about their plans for the next movie. We'll see what they have in mind. That comes up tomorrow, opening day for "Fireproof."
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 their help in getting out the word about the movie, "Fireproof." 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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