As they shoot the follow up to their surprise hit film, the
makers of Christian drama Fireproof know that the pressure is on.
Currently being filmed in Albany, Ga., Courageous is
a bigger effort in every way than the previous church-made movie that was the
most successful independent release of any in 2008, grossing more than $30
million at the box office and credited with saving and strengthening many
The ensemble drama has more demanding scenes, double the
previous $500,000 budget and higher production standards. And with heightened
expectations for the film when it opens in theaters next year, the church’s
Sherwood Pictures group also has stepped up the focus on an integral part of its
“We are definitely feeling that the stakes are higher,” said
Courageous producer and co-writer Stephen Kendrick, who scripted the
film with his brother, Alex. Both men are on staff at Sherwood Baptist Church
in Albany, whose earlier inspirational films were Flywheel and Facing
In addition to daily on-set devotions, a 24-hour prayer
chain based at the church throughout the seven-week shoot, and regular prayer
requests and praise reports shared with more than 250,000 Courageous
fans on Facebook, the film has a team devoted to prayer at each location.
Adapting a movie industry tradition of playfully clipping
crew members’ clothes with wooden pegs—a vital on-set accessory—when they are
not aware, the “hostess” team of women marks the pegs with Scripture verses to
remind those working on the set that they are being prayed for.
The prayer emphasis flows from
the heart of the church, which features a two-story prayer tower outside its
main entrance—from which up to 1,000 cards are sent each week to people who
have been prayed for—and a prayer room below the pulpit where intercessors meet
during each service.
“We don’t want to spend two
years making a movie that is just a good idea,” said Kendrick, crediting prayer
with bringing the fathering theme of Courageous, which follows a group
of law enforcement officers dealing with challenges in their own families. “The
Lord knows what this generation needs to hear and when they need to hear it.”
Members of the church see the
success of Sherwood Pictures over the last few years as an answer to their
ongoing prayers that their congregation might touch the world from their small
The success of Fireproof
and the other films has drawn visitors from across the U.S. and even overseas
curious to know more about the church that has taken on Hollywood. There have
even been commercial coach tours of the city, showing tourists some of the
different locations used in the movies.
But “it would be sad to me if
all we were known for [was movies],” said Senior Pastor Michael Catt. “Making
movies is just a portion of what we do.”
Some of the proceeds from Sherwood films have gone
toward church ministries, including the development of an 82-acre sports park
for use by the local community.