Christian filmmaker Alex Kendrick surprised by reception of movies

Filmmaker Alex Kendrick, director of “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” speaks with local media Friday night at Hannibal-LaGrange University. Kendrick was the guest speaker at the university’s Booster Banquet. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Nov. 16, 2012 10:49 pm Updated: Nov. 30, 2012 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Alex Kendrick was not expecting his films to be seen by millions worldwide.

"My big vision was to make movies for our local community," said the associate pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

Kendrick along with his brother, Stephen Kendrick, co-wrote the 2011 film "Courageous," which grossed more than $34 million in the U.S. market and was shown in 75 countries worldwide.

"When we got our first movie in one local theater, my personal dream was fulfilled, and that was the end of that," Kendrick said. "God had bigger plans, and people began sending the DVDs out to places like Blockbuster Video, and they picked it up nationwide."

Kendrick was the featured speaker Friday at the Hannibal-LaGrange University's 71st annual booster banquet.

He is also known for his 2008 film "Fireproof," which starred 2010 featured speaker Kirk Cameron, and his 2006 film "Facing the Giants."

Neither him or his brother had training in filmmaking, but through Sherwood Pictures, they have produced four family-friendly Christian outreach films.

"We learned everything we could as fast as we could, and we prayed like crazy and whatever we sensed God telling us to do is what we did," he said.

Kendrick said he and his brother had no control over getting their films released to a studio.

"Sony saw an early DVD copy of ‘Facing the Giants' -- even before it went to the theater -- and they called us and said they wanted to put it in theaters," he said. "I know it's not supposed to happen this way. I know thousands of people want to get their movies made, and they knock on the doors of studios and more than often are told no."

With each movie they produce, the Kendricks are seeing increased budgets and returns.

"We've made four ourselves, and now we're helping other guys make their films as well," Kendrick said.

He will be seen in "The Lost Medallion," which will be released in March 2013. The Kendrick brothers are also planning to write a full-length feature film in early 2013 to be shot in the spring, but he would not elaborate on the details.

"The people that are closest to us, we haven't even told them, and I think we would be beaten up if we revealed that before our closest circle," Kendrick said.

Carolyn Carpenter, director of public relations for HLGU, said when planning the banquet, they look to bring a Christian speaker that relates to those in attendance.

"People want to come see somebody that is going to talk about a Christian university or a Christian world view or a biblical world view," Carpenter said. "So if we can get somebody in here that people are going to relate to and enjoy listening to, it's a win-win for everybody."

Money raised from the event is used for the university's annual fund, which helps the university with operations.