Fireproof a unique blend of volunteers, faith and marriage, and location filming

By: Steve Mathie
Staff Writer

October 1, 2008

ALBANY, Ga. - Alex and Stephen Kendrick bring to the screen in their third movie, a philanthropic filled project dedicated to the institution of marriage that is fueled by faith. Sherwood Pictures is part of Sherwood Church in Albany, Ga., where Fireproof was filmed.

Sherwood Pictures is a production company that attempts to reach the world from Albany, and created their first film Flywheel, in 2002. They followed that with Facing the Giants in 2006. Their latest release has had a major impact at the box office, and if the message of the movie reaches the hearts of its viewers, everyone involved in the production will have fulfilled its purpose.

This movie is much more than a major motion picture with big names that spent hundreds of millions of dollars. This production brought together a community of volunteers whose goal was to convey a message to the public that the institution of marriage can be reconciled when understanding how to love your spouse through faith.

Nancy Lovell is a partner with Lovell-Fairchild, a communications agency that connects important ideas and themes through entertainment such as movies. Lovell was on the set of Fireproof for about four weeks.

“It was really special, and everyone was a volunteer so they knew they were part of something special,” says Lovell.

Heading up that all-volunteer cast is former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron. Cameron played Mike Seaver in the late 80s - early 90s television comedy. Here Cameron is cast as Capt. Caleb Holt, a firefighter who struggles to sustain his marriage with his wife, played by Erin Bethea (Facing the Giants).

Cameron was one of many volunteers on a set that came together to finish a project that serves a great cause. All the proceeds from the film that get back to the church will go into a sports park for the city that has a fishing pond, walking trails, horse trails and stables, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields.

“Kirk was absolutely lovely to work with, he doesn’t push himself forward and is very eager to learn,” says Lovell.

The movie was filmed at the Albany Fire Department and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. In addition, another church in town donated two residential homes that were supposed to be bulldozed. Instead, they used those homes as filming locations for scenes with fires. The fire department allowed for the use of two of their brand new fire trucks.

“It was really carefully done and they worked very closely with the fire department on those scenes, there was a lot of good will on the set,” says Lovell. “So many intangibles brought this movie together, mostly volunteers that wanted to be there. They were really creative about the locations and it was a privilege to see that and be part of the production.”

Filming was also done at a house in Leesburg, where a house that was up for sale was donated as a filming location. This is especially unique, as the film industry generally pays property owners thousands and thousands dollars when they use their location. The rest of the locations used for filming were also used at no cost. One of the homes had enough acreage to be used for multiple scenes. Filming lasted about six weeks.

Georgia has become a new abode for the film industry, much ado to the 20-30% tax credit that became new legislation in May of this year. Over 40 projects are in some state of production in the Peach State, including Van Wilder 3, Madea Goes to Jail, The Joneses starring Demi Moore, and We Shall Remain, a television mini-series with Benjamin Bratt. Production companies are also attracted to Georgia for filming locations because of the ample talent and crew base. 800 production service companies, 20 sound stages and over 3,000 industry professionals populate Georgia.

As for Fireproof, the drama has grossed a modest $7.21 million in its first five days in the theatres. This movie is an example of how everyone working together with a smaller budget and authentic filming locations can make a movie that America comes out and embraces.

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