National Catholic Register

Commentary

‘Fireproof’: The Proof Is in the Product

BY Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

February 15-21, 2009 Issue | Posted 2/6/09 at 9:00 AM

 

Capt. Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) and his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) are engulfed in more than a mere “seven-year itch” in their marriage in the movie Fireproof.

The couple’s frigid demeanors are keenly felt through the screen as the first scene opened. Coming in from work, the couple passes by one another in the kitchen, avoiding eye contact, and speaking only when necessary.

Without a doubt, the flame of their devoted love had extinguished with no sign of stray embers to be stoked. As the movie dramatically and realistically unfolds, the couple is forced to decide if what they once had is at all worth saving.

On Jan. 27, Fireproof the DVD hit stores and will be available in English and Spanish, complete with bonus features that include ministry tools. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, chairman of the Committee on Marriage and Family for the U.S. bishops’ conference, said, “Fireproof is an excellent film that makes marriage commitment real and attainable with Christ’s grace.”

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with the producer of Fireproof, Stephen Kendrick, about the making of the movie, behind the scenes scoop, and how he has experienced God’s hand in all of it. The storyline for the movie Fireproof came as an inspiration to Stephen’s brother, Alex Kendrick. The brothers who both hold ministry roles in the Baptist church are co-producers and writers with Sherwood Pictures.

Out jogging one day, Alex Kendrick was vividly struck with the focus for their next movie.

The idea of a marriage in trouble played out in his mind, and he ran to share it with Stephen.

The two had been praying for a few months for an idea for a follow-up film to their Facing the Giants surprise hit. After praying together, the storyline unfolded further into what has become an absolute phenomenon.

Countless testimonials are constantly coming in from couples who are divorced, or on the verge, who have been dramatically affected by the movie and its companion book, Love Dare. Many can be seen on their websites: FireproofTheMovie.com and FireproofMyMarriage.com.

Couples are following advice from the movie, turning to God and taking up the challenge to commit to a “love dare” in their own lives. The Love Dare book was coauthored by the brothers to follow the movie and had been at the top of The New York Times’ bestseller list for four weeks.

Stephen told me, “We wrote it for the people who watched the movie to give them a tangible thing. We don’t want people to be moved emotionally by the movie and that’s it! We give resources.”

Stephen said the book has taken off beyond their wildest expectations and that 300,000 were pre-sold before the movie even came out. Stephen explained that he and his brother and all involved with the projects were “Praying Ephesians 3:20. I can imagine a lot, but God has consistently done so much more. He showed up the whole time!”

Some ways that the Kendrick brothers feel that God “showed up” included bumping into Kirk Cameron at an airport and giving him a copy of their movie Facing the Giants.

Cameron was so impressed after watching the movie that he contacted them and asked that they keep him in mind for future movies. The rest is history, as they say, and Cameron stretched his “Mike Seaver” acting in leaps and bounds to dramatically portray the many dynamic and spirited emotions of Capt. Caleb Holt. Cameron also matched the other actor’s commitment to work for free to bring this movie to light. “Getting Kirk Cameron was a God moment,” Stephen noted.

“The actors did performances beyond their ability,” Stephen said, attributing this also to God’s help. All of the actors were ordinary people with the exception of Cameron. A representative of Sony was astonished at one of the actor’s performances asking, “Where’d you find that guy?”

During the filming at an out-of-town location, a fork lift showed up at the moment they needed it to help with a scene in which a car had to be moved off of railroad tracks. A neighbor just happened to have one in his back yard. The director of photography was amazed.

This movie has it all. Not only does it attract men as a “guy flick” because of the action, the firehouse banter, fires and rescues; it is also all about relationships, romance, emotional real-life struggles, and the meaning behind the covenant of marriage.

As to what’s next, Stephen and Alex feel God is telling them to take a respite. Stephen said they will take time for their own marriages (which are not in trouble, by the way) and their families, to practice what they preach. Stephen said they know that there will be another movie, God willing. They will be praying about it as they relish in family time.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is the author of Grace Café

and The Domestic Church: Room by Room (Circle Press).

DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.