Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 10/15/21 Critical Race Theory is shaping up as perhaps the mother of all issues this election cycle. The Biden Administration unleashed the righteous anger of moms (and dads) when it got Attorney General Merrick Garland to instruct the FBI to become involved in monitoring […]
Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 09/24/21
This is a big month for fans of Alex and Stephen Kendrick. The Kendrick Brothers are known as the visionaries behind such successful faith-themed films as Flywheel(2003), Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof(2008), Courageous(2011), War Room (2015) and Overcomer (2019). Their productivity is particularly on view this month as the creative Christian siblings premiered Show Me the Father, their first documentary feature, on September 17th. That film is still in theaters even as today they’re unveiling Courageous Legacy, a remastered 10th anniversary edition of the original Courageous movie that includes new footage and a new ending that follows up on what’s become the film’s characters a decade later. In a way, it’s a companion piece to Show Me the Father in that both films celebrate the value good fathers play in their children’s lives. My conversation with Stephen Kendrick follows the trailer below.
SK: Yes, one of those stories is my daughter’s adoption story. My wife and I adopted a baby girl from China in 2013. We did not realize that God was going to lead us to adopt. So, that was a surprise and then the way He went about communicating that to us was a surprise. The things we learned about the Fatherhood of God in the midst of the adoption were unexpected as well.
SK: With a documentary you go in with a hope but you don’t have a finished script. You are praying for God to lead you to treasure that you’re mining out of lots of stories. So, when we were beginning the process of beginning to interview people, we didn’t know which stories we would use and which ones we wouldn’t. We interviewed dozens of people but we landed on five stories that really highlight the extremes of really good examples and really bad examples of fatherhood. People will be able to see themselves and their own journey in the stories.The stories also feature God’s intervention – answered prayer- how He brought a lot of healing, forgiveness and restoration where there was brokenness. So, Show Me the Father not only takes you on this emotional roller coaster but it lands in a place with a lot of hope and encouragement. People have left the pre-screenings very excited about sharing the movie with other people and even talking about how much it meant to them personally.
It hit a chord with international audiences. We were hearing back from countries all over the world – from Russia, China, South Africa, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines – (about) large groups of men and churches and people being deeply impacted by Courageous. It was translating very well internationally. My brother Alex even received a call from the International Space Station. They had watched Courageous in space on the space station! (So, that) was exciting and unexpected to find out.
It’s been ten years since the movie came out and we’ve got a new generation of young men that have become fathers – millions of them who had either never seen Courageous or they would watch it with completely new eyes holding their own children. So, we were thinking what if we went and not just rereleased the film but what if we made it way better? We reedited the film. We added an introduction that shares about the impact it’s had around the world which is inspiring. We’ve recolored it. It is now in 4K which is the way we shot it in the raw form. We originally released it only in 2K quality. The sound has been redone. The music has been enhanced. We’ve added in new bonus scenes. We filmed a new ten-years-later ending to the film. You get to watch where the officers are ten years later. So, it feels more like an event now but it’s still safe for families to go see. Courageous fans are gonna love the film, we believe. It will be the best version for a new generation.
From a secular perspective, the story is #1. (Everyone wants a) story (that) really works. An audience will actually tolerate amateur acting (and) a lower budget…if the story is strong. That’s the most important thing, not the budgets or who the actors are.
Secondly, I think the character development is very important – that you care about these people that you’re going on a journey with and you want to see what happens to them. Emotionally, you want to audience to have highs and lows. You want them to be on the edge of their seat wanting to know what gonna happen next. You want the acting to be realistic and authentic to the scene and to the context of the moment.
Then, the professionalism. You want it to be artistically beautiful – that the scenes are beautiful to look at, the music is beautiful to hear, the pacing and the unfolding of the story keeps your attention all the way to the end. You want to have a sense of a gratifying ending, whatever that may be – whether it’s a mystery, a happy ending or something that’s challenging or convicting because you discover truths that will help you in life.
From our perspective on a Christian film, we want people to have a spiritual experience when they watch the movie. We want them to encounter God (and) at some level (to) discover truth about who God is or about who they are or discover a truth from Scripture that can help them in their most important relationships. We talk about how, if a person is on their deathbed, they don’t care anymore about how much money they have or how much they worked in the office or the places around the world they traveled. They’re gonna be thinking about where they stand with God and they’re gonna be thinking about the people they love the most.
It’s interesting that our films basically focus in on those two things. All of our films focus in on helping people in their faith, in their relationship with God, to hopefully draw close to Him, be more committed to Him and to know Him personally and not just know about Him.
Secondly, we want to help people to be stronger and healthier in their most important relationships. So, Fireproof focused on marriage. Courageous focused in on fatherhood. Overcomer talks about identity but there’s a reconciliation that’s demonstrated. An important theme for us – that’s even shown in Show Me the Father, as well – is how beautiful reconciliation can be.