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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Some violence and drug content.
Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes, Ben Davies, Rusty Martin, Rusty Martin Sr., T.C. Stallings, Eleanor Brown, Matt Hardwick
Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick
Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives.
Courageous (2011) | Preview
Is God on Sherwood's Side, or They on His?
Over a thee-week period on the set of Courageous last June, scores of journalists and Christian-market opinion-makers were treated by Sherwood Pictures and their marketing consultants to an exhaustive look at how Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany Georgia makes movies. As many readers will know, Sherwood is the church who has partnered with Sony Provident to bring Facing the Giants and Fireproof to theaters across the country, and Flywheel (Sherwood's first home-brew film) to home video. Sherwood's latest film, Courageous, is due in theaters September 30.
The success of Facing the Giants and Fireproof has surprised almost everyone in the business—even those who have enthusiastically supported those films. From a financial standpoint, Facing the Giants and Fireproof have been industry shockers, with the former boasting a production budget of, yes, $100,000 and grossing over $10 million (plus twice that in DVD sales), while the latter grossed $33 million (plus another $30 million in DVDs) against a production budget of $500,000. Provident has, of course, poured a good deal of money into promoting those films (with figures probably in the $5-15 million range, though such figures are not publicly bandied about)—but even so, the Sherwood approach is the envy of the faith niche market.
That kind of financial success is also the envy of filmmakers (and businessmen) everywhere as "It takes money to make films" is just as true as "It takes money to make money." Sherwood has been able to funnel profits from their films not only into community development projects—like the 82-acre mult-million-dollar Legacy Park, remarkably admirable and well-executed effort, I might add—but into increasingly bigger budgets for (hopefully) better films each time out.
When I visited the Courageous set, Sherwood's Senior Associate Pastor (and Sherwood Producer) Stephen Kendrick greeted the group of guests of which I was a part in Sherwood's choir room—and after showing us rough cuts of several scenes from the film reiterated that Sherwood's films themselves are but one the evidences that God is able to take loaves and fishes and, for His glory, turn them into a feast. He emphasized, of course, that Sherwood has been able to do in the faith market what Hollywood hasn't been able to—despite the fact that neither he nor his brother Alex, who co-writes Sherwood's films with Stephen and directs them, have been to film school.
A couple of days later, Stephen was able to spare a few minutes for me to follow up on that thought. I pointed out that "Hey, look what we can do without a proper education!" is not exactly a position that's consistent with "Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord"—even when you give God credit for that. It is, in fact, an attitude that has generated an awful lot of very, very substandard films in the Christian market.
Now, granted, Jesus was able to use uneducated laborers as His standardbearers for the Gospel—but they were also intensively discipled by the Master for that ministry, which one can mistake for nothing other than a top-flight education. And I hardly think that Sherwood would be pleased to hear Senior Pastor Michael Catt ballyhooing a lack of pastoral training (he in fact has degrees from Mississippi College, Luther Rice Bible College and Seminary, and Trinity Seminary).
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