Below is the transcription of an interview we conducted with Stephen Kendrick (producer of Fireproof) at the 2009 Christian Filmmakers Academy in San Antonio.

UPDATED: Now you can  listen to the audio version of this interview below.

(This interview is © 2009  See bottom of interview for permitted use)

GHM: From our perspective, it seems apparent that God’s hand of blessing is on the work that you’re doing. We would like to hear some of your thoughts about why you think God is blessing your work.

Stephen Kendrick (SK): Well the blessing of the Lord is our greatest asset and from the beginning, we knew that if God chose to bless the project that He would open doors, He would provide resources, people would like the characters in the movie, they would want to connect and He would speak to their hearts.

We can have big budgets, great actors, awesome special effects, incredible cinematography, but if God removes His blessing off of us as believers in a project, you might as well call the movie “Ichabod” and declare it worthless.

Knowing that, we have sought to keep the Lord happy the entire time. And that means seeking Him for what His heartbeat is on a storyline. We spent months in prayer before Fireproof saying, “Lord, what do you want us to make a movie about?” Then when He confirmed the direction, we prayed through each decision with who was in leadership, who is going to be cast [etc.]

We asked the people who auditioned, “Is there anything in your life that would cause God to take His hand of blessing off this movie if we put you in it?” And we’ve had people back out of that saying, “Well, there are things in my life that don’t need to be there.” Not that we’re looking for anybody who’s perfect, but there’s a difference between someone who stumbles, but is seeking the Lord in repentance and obedience and somebody who is cherishing sin and stiff-arming God. We didn’t want any “Achans” in our camp so to say.

Operating in integrity, in public and in private. The Lord sees what we do. You can be dishonest with money, you can be dishonest with taking credit for things you didn’t do. You can be dishonest in trying to persuade people to do things. Trying to operate with complete integrity, honoring the Lord, the Lord honors that. In Psalms and in Proverbs it talks about how God blesses the upright and how their path is like a highway, but with the wicked, it’s like a hedge of thorns. God continues to open the door with that.

The Lord blesses unity. Psalm 1:33 says, “God commands his blessing to fall where brethren dwell together in unity.” We guarded the unity of our team, with the leadership team and with the corporate church. Praying together, forgiving one another, confessing “I wronged you, I’m sorry. I was wrong.” That is the key issue.

Being under authority. The Lord blesses us when we’re under authority. And we stayed under the authority of our pastor, and the leadership of the church. All of those things have been I think key elements in helping us to position ourselves for the Lord to bless. Now, He can do whatever He wants to. And God can say “You’ve done what you’ve want to, but I don’t want to bless this.” But so far, He has.

GHM: What would you say is one of the most difficult challenges you’ve had to overcome in your moviemaking?

SK: Well every scene is difficult. Because it requires so much work and effort and you need resources, and getting amateurs to act can be difficult.

Auditioning is difficult. Especially if you’re auditioning fifty people for one role and trying to figure out who’s the right person.

The other thing is just long hours. Every aspect of filmmaking requires a lot of time and energy. Many people, their families fail, their marriages fall apart, their children rebel, because they’re never home. And so guarding that family-time and couple-time as a married couple is very important. Getting the rest that you need. You’re working eighteen-hour days. Sometimes you’re not getting to bed until three in the morning, but you’ve got a six o’clock call time the next day. Just operating that way can be very challenging.

People think that moviemaking is all entertainment and fun, and it’s just going to be like going to summer camp, but it’s more like going to war. You are away from your family more than you want to be, there’s an enemy who’s attacking you if you’re trying to represent Christ, equipment falls apart; it rains and messes up the set. Constant flexibility is needed on the set.

The enemy has attacked marriages. That has been difficult. Because people that we love around us and even who helped us make the movie, their marriages have been attacked like never before. And being with them in the midst of that, and praying with them, and helping them. [Trying] to reconcile a couple can be difficult.

GHM: What would you say is the state of the God-honoring film industry today?

SK: I think there is incredible potential with what is happening. You can tell that the groundwork is being laid Theologically, helping people to be thinking more biblically before they try to stand up and communicate something to other people. Technologically, God is positioning us, for so much less money, to be able to afford to produce movies and media projects. The Lord is clearly setting the table for the Christian community to be able to step up to the plate and deliver and I believe eventually beating out the world at their own game.

GHM: That’s exciting.

SK: Very exciting.

GHM: Who would you say are some of the most influential people that have influenced you as you entered into filmmaking?

SK: My dad. Watching him go on a journey of faith and be obedient to the Lord and walk in integrity over the years. Our pastor and executive pastor constantly holding us accountable. Rebuking us when we needed it, counseling us when we needed it, encouraging us when we needed it, praying with us.

And then there [are] so many prayer warriors. My mom is an incredible prayer warrior who prays over us every day from home. We have a network of people around us who have been praying for us that have helped influence us.

We’ve all seen a lot of movies. And you could say well, this filmmaker, I like his work, I like Stephen Spielberg’s directing, I like John Williams score. But ultimately, God’s Word has been the greatest influence on our thinking, to help us, that is. And the Holy Spirit inspires. I mean, He is an encourager, a paraclete. And He comes alongside and is helping order our steps. But “big picture” wise, those are some of the bigger influencers.

GHM: Thanks so much for your time. We enjoyed this.

SK: You’re welcome. Yeah, I enjoyed it, too.

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