Former rocket scientist, shark safety diver and award winning screenwriter, Dan Goforth’s most recent assignments were RIDING ON FAITH, the true-life story of rodeo champion Amberley Snyder and the feature film adaptations of New York Times bestselling author Col. Walter J. Boyne’s DAWN OVER KITTY HAWK, as well as the sci-fi graphic novel, THE CHRONIC ARGONAUTS, from New Baby Publishing. Visit Dan’s blog, Script Soup and follow him on Twitter @Dango_Forth.
I’m truly thrilled to begin a new column, Cross Road to Films, focusing on the Christian filmmaking community. The Gospel has a long history in the movies, dating back to 1903 with the French silent film Vie et Passion du Christ (Life and Passion of the Christ). Recent movies have brought the Good News to film studio awareness, showing that not only is there already a built-in audience for these stories, but there is also an opportunity for filmmakers to reach out beyond their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sometimes bringing the Gospel message to the screen is literally a labor of brotherly love. Sibling teams like Dave and Rich Christiano, who got their start in the 80s (and are still going strong today), were followed by the Kendricks (who started out in the early 2000s) and on to Jon and Andy Erwin, the latest generation as filmmakers. And yet another generation of Christian filmmakers is being raised up, as the Kendrick brothers’ latest film reached out to include 18 college students from six different colleges in filling crew member positions. “Every generation needs to pour into and invest in the next generation,” Stephen Kendrick said. “We pray that everyone able to stand on our shoulders, one day will make even better movies.”
Brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick are well-known at the box office from their breakout hits, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous, which together have grossed more than $75 million at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, Courageous‘ opening weekend ranks fifth all-time among Christian movies, behind The Passion of the Christ and the three Chronicles of Narnia films.
The Kendricks have always had a passion for filmmaking. “When we were very young our parents on occasion would take us to see a family movie,” Alex remembers. “I would look at the screen and think, ‘We have to do this one day.’ When those big, bulky camcorders came out in the ’80s, we begged our parents to buy us one and we began filming our versions of spy movies and adventure movies in our backyard and neighborhood. And we kind of developed a knack for it.” “We had seen some Billy Graham movies as kids—Caught and The Cross and the Switchblade,” Stephen said. “At the same time, we were telling stories in our backyard with the video camera. God was birthing in us a desire to make Christian films.”
The Kendrick brothers’ latest film is War Room, their first project independent of Sherwood Pictures, the movie ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church. Kendrick Brothers Productions was formed with the blessing and support of the Sherwood family, however, where they remain associate pastors. As they began the process of planning for this film, they sat down to pray for guidance and wisdom. And they found themselves called to focus on the power of prayer. “We didn’t wake up on day wanting to make a movie about a 75-year-old woman’s prayer closet,” says producer and co-writer Stephen Kendrick. “We asked God to order our steps and the ideas came.”
War Room is a compelling faith drama that explores the power prayer can have on marriages, parenting, careers, friendships and every other area of life. “We made this film to inspire, challenge and motivate viewers to fight the right kind of battles and to fight them the best way,” said writer and director Alex Kendrick. The film features New York Times best-selling author and Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer in her film debut. The cast also includes director Alex Kendrick, T.C. Stallings (Courageous), comedian Michael Jr. and introduces film newcomers Karen Abercrombie as Miss Clara and Alena Pitts as Danielle, as well as featuring a cameo by renowned speaker Beth Moore in her first acting role..
AFFIRM Films and Provident Films have partnered with the Kendricks in bringing War Room to theaters nationwide on August 28. I recently attended a private screening of War Room and I have to say that it is, without a doubt, one of the finest films ever made to show what it means to live the Christian life. Not only is it a source of instruction and encouragement for believers, but I believe it is just as powerful an opportunity for non-believers to see what following Christ really means.
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