Faith, Media & Culture

Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. Courageous opens tomorrow (Friday). It’s the fourth film from the creative folks at Sherwood Pictures, the movie ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, whose previous credits include FlywheelAgainst the Giants and Fireproof (the latter film starring Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame).

This latest film follows four cops as they deal with intersecting challenges involving gang violence and fatherhood.  I had the opportunity to talk with Alex Kendrick who overseas the Sherwood movie ministry and who, with his brother Steve (also a minister at Sherwood), wrote, produced and edited all four of the group’s pictures. He points out that Courageous is the ministry’s first effort to have a million-dollar budget. Even Fireproof which raked in over $33 million to become the highest-grossing independent film of 2008 had budget of just about half that.

He notes that almost everyone who works on Sherwood movies are volunteers. Even Kirk Cameron wasn’t paid for Fireproof, though a donation was made to his charity.

JWK: So, where does the money go?

ALEX KENDRICK: We’ve been able to expand the counseling center and the crisis pregnancy center. We’ve given to a sports park in the community and to the homeless. We (also) started two churches.”

JWK: So, what’s your goal with these movies?

KENDRICK:  Our goal is not to make a Hollywood here (in Albany, Georgia). What we’re trying to do is, basically, just tell stories that impact our culture… I would compare (movies) to a meal.  You sit down at a restaurant and some people may want a tasty meal with a delicious desert and other people sit down and their priority is to eat a healthy meal. They want to make sure that they’re getting the nutrients and the good food and the salads  and the vegetables and things like that. It really depends on  what the viewer is looking for. For me, I see movies as…a means of entertainment , a means of art and a means of ministry. I see it all intertwining…For us, ministry would be the number one priority. Certainly, I understand anyone saying that it is an art form. I’m not disagreeing with that but I just think it’s very narrow minded to say that movies should only be entertaining. I think there’s a number of applications there and so we try to utilize all of those applications.

JWK: What do you want to accomplish with Courageous, specifically?

KENDRICK:  I want men to walk away realizing that they have a crucial role and (to realize) that they have to be the one in the driver’s seat of their family with both hands on the wheel. They are called by God to teach and train and mentor their children and to be that early picture of God the Father for their children and when men choose their hobbies or choose their work  over their family it sends the wrong message. And so we’re hoping that a grass roots effort will come up and that men will start keeping each other accountable and encourage one another to step up be more than just a “good enough”  dad.  And so, if that happens, we’re thrilled.

Again, the movie opens tomorrow (Friday). Till then, check out the trailer below.

2. Mel Gibson faces Maccabee competition. From The Hollywood Reporter: Producer Bruce Nash (Modern Marvels) is pulling together a version of the Hanukkah origin story for a potential feature or TV miniseries. News of the project comes just three weeks after Warner Bros. acknowledged that it is developing a Judah Maccabee/Hanukkah movie with actor-writer-director Mel Gibson and Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Gibson’s involvement in the WB project as a producer (and possible star and/or director) provoked immediate recriminations from some in the Jewish community because of his record of making anti-Semitic remarks…That antipathy could provide an advantage for Nash’s project, which, unlike the Gibson effort, already has a finished script by Scott Abbott, who wrote the HBO movie Winchell and co-wrote Introducing Dorothy Dandridge for the cable network. Nash and Bob Kosberg would produce along with Maura Dunbar of Odyssey Networks, where Nash originally developed the project and which provided initial financing.
Comment: In the past, we’ve had competing volcanoes (1997’s Volcano and Dante’s Peak) and meteors (1998’s Armageddon and Deep Impact). So, why not dueling Maccabees?

No blog tomorrow. See you Monday.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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