Friday, December 14, 2007

That's a WRAP (Part 2)

Guest blogger Michael Catt, Senior Pastor of Sherwood Church and the Executive Producer of FIREPROOF, shares his thoughts as the third film from Sherwood Pictures wraps up production.Michael Catt leads the final-day devotion on the set of FIREPROOF. (photo by Hayley Catt)

Today, December 14, is the last of the 30 days of shooting for FIREPROOF. It’s hard to believe we’re wrapping up and packing up. Over the next few days we’ll get back to “normal”—whatever that means these days. We’ve learned the definition of normal is constantly changing. I’ve often said since we started this moviemaking process, “Welcome to the new normal.”

The cooperation between the church, community, city, hospital, and fire department has been incredible. You can sense God working in every aspect. We’ve been blessed. From the action scenes to the romantic scenes, the pieces have fallen into place in a way that could only be explained by God.

Our professional crew has been incredible. We’ve renewed old friendships from FACING THE GIANTS and made new friends. The team has bonded over these days and weeks of seemingly endless shooting.

For me as a pastor, it’s been a joy to be behind the scenes for a change and to see my family on the set. Erin playing a key role in the movie. Hayley taking photographs and doing so much with the crew. Terri being in charge of costumes. As with the entire cast and crew, it’s a blessing to see people excelling in their areas of passion and expertise.

You have to know that this movie is a team effort. It’s the whole church that makes the movie. Without our people and their willingness to serve, none of this would be possible. Without their willingness to buy into the vision of “Changing the world from Albany, Georgia,” we wouldn’t be in the movie business. I’m grateful to pastor a church that will think outside the box.

That's a WRAP (Part 1)

As filming of FIREPROOF wrapped up, we asked Michael Catt, Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and Executive Producer of the movie, to talk about the production. In Part 1 of the entry, Pastor Catt shares the amazing number of people involved with the film.

More than 1,200 people, families, businesses, and churches served Sherwood Pictures during the filming of FIREPROOF. These numbers are conservative estimates that do not even factor in the 50 or more people that served as cast, crew, costuming, security, extras, etc.

Sunday School Classes That Catered: 20
People In Those Classes: 1005
Individuals Donating Meals: 30
Prayer Warriors: 65 (households)
Babysitters: 44Businesses Donating Snacks: 7
Local Restaurants Donating Meals: 15
Local Churches Donating Meals or Facilities: 4
People Donating Snacks: 30
People Allowing Use of Golf Carts: 4
People Allowing Use of RVs: 3

Local Organizations and People Helping Out:
Gethsemane Worship Center
(Donated house that was burned down)
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
(Donated production office, hospital wing and cafeteria for filming)
Albany Fire Department
(Provided support, training, and use of fire stations and fire trucks for filming)
Musculoskeletal Associates
(Provided doctor’s office for filming)
Town of Shellman
(Use of town for filming)
Georgia SW Railroad
(Provided train and tracks for filming)
City of Albany
(Provided ambulances for filming, and support throughout)
Albany Police Department
(Provided police cars for filming and security)
Railway Freight and Holley House
(Provided furniture for sets)
Sharber and Chambers Families
(Provided houses and property for use as sets)
Bill Butler and Oliver Cromwell
(Provided newly built home for set)
MRS Homecare
(Provided wheelchair

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome Visitors (W6:D4)

In many ways, Sherwood Pictures filmed FACING THE GIANTS in relative anonymity back in 2004. While the team’s prayer was for the film to have theatrical distribution, there was no way of knowing what journey God had in store for the movie … and Sherwood.

FACING THE GIANTS ended up achieving box office success, became a best-selling DVD, and—most importantly—continues making an impact on the lives of people worldwide.

What has that has meant for the filming of FIREPROOF? Awareness and interest is high for the church’s third movie—months before the film opens in theatres.

This time around, the set has included scores of visitors representing some of the leading ministries in the country, as well as interested media members.

On Thursday, the final set visitors experienced the penultimate day of shooting. Mitch Temple, who heads up Focus on the Family’s marriage ministry, was at Albany Fire Station 1 with his wife Rhonda.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed being on the set,” Mitch says. “The spirit of what everybody is doing is apparent—they’re doing it for the right reason. I’m thankful and extremely excited to see this kind of production.”

In addition to his work with Focus, Mitch and Rhonda work directly with couples whose marriages are in crisis. They’ve seen firsthand the healing God can bring to troubled marriages.

“A bad marriage is not like rotten fruit,” Mitch says. “You throw rotten fruit out. But a bad marriage can be turned around. We see it all the time.”

The Temples are looking forward to seeing FIREPROOF in its completed form not only for the entertainment value, but also for the ministry impact.

“We were excited to come here because we’d seen FACING THE GIANTS,” Rhonda says “We know the potential of this film to make an impact on marriages.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Professional Volunteers (W6:D3)

For the past two months, the mainly volunteer cast and crew of FIREPROOF have been working diligently and prayerfully to create a movie that not only is entertaining, but that will make an impact on marriages.

“It’s a wonderful group of people to work with,” says David Nixon, the Orlando-based assistant director on both FIREPROOF and FACING THE GIANTS. “The level of professionalism by the volunteers on the set has gone up exponentially from Giants. It’s like working with a professional crew. They come to the set prepared and know what to do.”

We talked to a few of the Sherwood volunteer-professionals to get their take on FIREPROOF.

“I went to boot camp not knowing where I could help. I prayed that Lord would use me wherever He wanted me and He has. We just joined the church in September so I wanted to get involved to meet people. I’ve made a lot of very close friends. I can’t wait until we start the next movie!”

Mandy Chambers

“We get to serve meals and clean up afterwards. We’re all put here to serve God and serve one another. I’ve enjoyed it so much because of the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s been wonderful.”
Wayne Holt
“I’ve had the opportunity to do just about everything. I even got to yell ‘Action!’ on my birthday! I love all of the behind-the-scenes stuff: everybody coming together and praying for everybody else, the friendships I have made.”
Pam Johnson

“I’m basically everyone’s momma. I get to love on everyone. My biggest prayer is that marriages that don’t know they’re in trouble will be touched by this movie.”
Diane Morgan

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Train Set (W6:D2)

Thirty-five miles northwest of Albany lies Shellman, Georgia—population 1,084 (according to the 2005 US Census estimate).

On Monday and Tuesday, Shellman was the location for one of the most intense scenes in FIREPROOF … and all of the moviemaking equipment required to make it happen. And that includes a train!

“I think we doubled the population of Shellman,” says David Nixon, assistant director for FIREPROOF. “We had six pages of script to shoot in two days, which is very difficult to do. But the Lord’s hand was on us the whole time.”

One example: as the crew was discussing the difficulties in positioning (and repositioning) a car in the scene, someone mentioned how beneficial a forklift would be. A man who lives near the tracks who was watching the filming said he had a forklift in his garage. Problem solved!

“It just keeps amazing me how the Lord has blessed all of Sherwood’s productions,” he says. “We get to experience miracles every day.”

The train scene is another tense one, much like the fire scenes shot in Week 4. And that was just in the filming of the scenes!

“It was stressful because we had do so many composite shots with so many different camera angles,” David says. “But with the forklift available and the train moving much faster than I thought it would, things turned out. We even had the vice president of the train line driving the train.

While the faith-based storyline drives FIREPROOF, moviegoers will notice some differences between this 2008 release and the first two Sherwood films.

“With this movie, Sherwood has really ramped up the production value,” David says. “We’ve been able to take things to a whole new level. Usually you have a $100-million budget to do what we have been able to do on less than a fraction of that!”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Set-Designing Woman (Week 6, Day 1)

It takes a person with a creative eye and an artistic touch to be a decorator. It takes a person with those talents—and the willingness to tear down what they’ve created at a moment’s notice—to be the set designer for a movie.

Like many of the volunteers on the crew, Sheila McBride’s first moviemaking experience came on FACING THE GIANTS. While that experience was beneficial, it didn’t fully prepare her for her responsibilities this time around.

“There are so many more details with FIREPROOF,” Sheila says. “We didn’t have a whole lot of set dressing to do in FACING THE GIANTS. Other than Grant Taylor’s office and their house, it was mainly football scenes.”

FIREPROOF has given Sheila and her volunteer team the opportunity to decorate a newly built house that serves as Caleb and Catherine Holt’s home, an outdoor wedding scene, fire stations, a hospital, a faux restaurant in the hospital, and even the interior of a house that burns down.

“That one was fun because we didn’t have to take anything out when they were done shooting,” Sheila says. Like with most of the set d├ęcor, the items in that house were donated.

“A furniture store let us use all the furniture in Caleb and Catherine’s house. A rental place donated all of the wedding items,” Sheila says. “It’s been amazing to see how much stuff people allowed us to use.”

As FIREPROOF begins the final week of filming, Sheila is looking forward to August 2008 when the movie is scheduled to open in theatres nationwide.

“I’m ready for it to be done so we can see it. Seeing the set on the screen is totally different from when you’re doing it,” she says. “I still can’t believe I get to do this.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

Helping Hand (W5:D5)

Without Paul Youngblood on the FIREPROOF set, there would be mass confusion.

Well, maybe not, but serving as a volunteer, Paul operates the slate board, a role he’s reprising from his movie crew debut with FACING THE GIANTS. The slate is used to mark scenes and takes prior to their filming.

“Doing this has made me look at movies differently,” says Paul, who is 77 years old. “It amazes me how it all comes together.”

Coming together with the other Sherwood volunteers is as much fun for Paul as the actual moviemaking.

“What I enjoy most is how everybody helps each other. Whatever your job is, you jump in and do whatever needs to be done,” he says. “I’ve met a lot more people from my church on the set. There are people from their teens to their seventies and everybody is accepted.”

After retiring from his civilian role as an equipment specialist with the Marine Corps, Paul has stayed active serving others. He works with a team of men that build wheelchair ramps.

“I love helping people,” he says.

Paul is especially excited to be helping on a movie that focuses on marriage. He has been married to Marcilla for 54 years and they have three grown children.

“She’s the best thing that’s happened in my life,” he says. “We both feel like the Lord’s given us to each other.”

That’s the heart of marriage. And the heart of FIREPROOF.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Makeup! (W5:D4)

For a decade, Curry Bushnell lived out his dream as a Hollywood make-up artist. For nearly that long, he let that dream fade into the woodwork. Now, he’s doing what he loves … with a purpose.

“I’m making movies for God,” he says. And he is doing it in Albany, Georgia!

Curry Bushnell applies makeup to Erin Bethea.

“I moved to Hollywood in 1977 and went to makeup school,” Curry says. “I did some show on ABC, various commercials, and some major motion pictures. But I got tired of the fast lane of Hollywood, so I came back to Albany.”

Without much call for a Hollywood-trained makeup artist in southwest Georgia, Curry put down the tools of his trade. Eventually, he took a job with the Department of Corrections, where he still works. And then …

“I saw FLYWHEEL and I was so moved by it, I said I have to get in touch with Alex Kendrick,” Curry says. “In late 2003, I met with him. Afterwards, he told me ‘I think God sent you to me.’ A few months later, we started filming FACING THE GIANTS.”

Curry was the volunteer Key Makeup Artist for that film, as he is again with FIREPROOF. He is on set every day, for as long as his work schedule allows him. He has a team of volunteer makeup artists from Sherwood that help as well.

“I was out of makeup for several years until I saw FLYWHEEL … and then everything changed,” Curry says. “That was all God’s timing. So now, making movies for God is my ministry.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Volunteer Firefighters (W5:D3)

Some fire departments have volunteer firefighters. FIREPROOF has volunteer actors playing firefighters!
Eric Young, Ken Bevel, Stephen Dervan, and Jason McLeod (L-R) look the part of Albany firefighters.

Filming returned to Albany fire stations this week. All five of the actors playing the main firefighting crew are volunteers and each has a strong connection with Sherwood. Three of the actors are members of the church: Ken Bevel, Eric Young, and Jason McLeod.

A fourth actor, Stephen Dervan is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. He grew up at Sherwood and served there when he began his ministry. And Kirk Cameron has become a good friend of the ministry since the release of FACING THE GIANTS.

After intense training led by Albany Training Chief Ron Rowe and Capt. Kenny Loudenbarger, a Sherwood member, the actors had a taste of real firefighting during last week’s filming of a house fire. This week, they get to enjoy the camaraderie that firefighters have when they live together 24 straight hours every third day.

While acting is new to Ken, Eric, and Stephen, there is a firefighting connection for four of the five actors. Eric actually served as a firefighter in Albany for three years in the early 1990s. Stephen’s dad was a longtime member of the Albany Fire Department. Kirk’s aunt was one of the first two female firefighters in the city of Los Angeles. And Jason grew up wanting to be a fireman. The odd man out? Ken, who serves as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps!

The quintet is schedule to face one more on-film calamity before filming concludes. Be sure to check in to the blog next week to see more from behind the scenes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bringing Continuity to You (W5:D2)

Have you ever been sitting in the movie theater and the milk container you see on the kitchen table goes from being half-empty to completely full—in the same scene? That makes Holly Stiegel cringe.

Holly, like most of the cast and crew of FIREPROOF, is a volunteer. In her role as Script Supervisor and Continuity, she helps ensure that scenes and props look exactly the same, even if they’re filmed on different days.

“I try to write down everything Alex Kendrick, David Nixon, and Bob Scott say as they set up a shot,” Holly says, talking about FIREPROOF's director, assistant director, director of photography.

“I take photos of the set to make sure they put everything back in the scene that was there the first time.”

Through a home-schooling network in Albany, Holly knew the Kendrick Brothers. Before FACING THE GIANTS began production, they called her to see if she could get a group of home-schoolers together to help with the filming.

“At the first boot camp before FACING THE GIANTS, David Nixon asked me if I wanted to do the script,” she recalls. “I would be classified as a rank amateur.”

The professionals thought otherwise. Holly was asked to reprise her role when FIREPROOF was in pre-production. Despite spending 12 to 15 hours a day on set for six weeks, she is excited to return as part of the Sherwood team.

“These are the most patient people in the world, and the most caring,” she says. “It’s an incredible group to work with.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

Answered Prayers (Week 5, Day 1)

An award-winning commercial director and editor, Bill Ebel has long prayed for the opportunity to use his skills in movie-making. A series of faith-affirming events has allowed him to become a key crew member on FIREPROOF.

Bill serves as the movie’s online editor, recording the digital cut of the film directly onto a Mac and doing the first edits of scenes—right after they’ve been filmed.

“I’ve been feeling led to get into Christian films,” Bill says. “But I didn’t know anybody in the business.” However, the pastor of the church he went to growing up did. That led to an initial meeting for Bill with Kris Fuhr, who heads up Provident Films’ operations. She encouraged Bill to connect with the Kendrick Bothers.

“I hadn’t seen FACING THE GIANTS before that,” Bill says. “I was blown away. I watched it with my kids and I was wiping away the tears. I realized that these guys got it. They know how to tell a great story.”

Bill’s story has the twists and turns of any good movie plot. He met Alex and Stephen Kendrick in July and connected well with them. He was soon offered his role in FIREPROOF … and decided to turn it down.

“I couldn’t really afford to do it for what they offered me. With a family and a mortgage I just couldn’t do it,” Bill says. “Stephen encouraged me to pray about it. My wife said I couldn’t not go.

“I sent Stephen an email saying I would do it. I was trusting God to make things work out financially. Stephen was in a budget meeting when I sent the email and he didn’t even see it before he called me to say, ‘We have more money for you and we want you to come.’”

Despite being away from his family for extended stretches, Bill Ebel knows an answered prayer when he stumbles upon it!

“My three older kids were excited for this opportunity for me. My five-year-old wanted to know why everyone couldn’t come to Chicago to film there,” Bill says. “From the beginning, my wife has been focused on this is where the Lord is leading. She knew we couldn’t say no.”
Bill Ebel (right) shows a just-filmed scene to cast and crew members on his computer screen.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Feeling the Heat (Week 4 wrap)

It’s the dream of nearly every little boy: to be a firefighter. This week, five actors from FIREPROOF were able to live out part of that dream. Highlighting an intense week of filming was the shooting of the fire scenes.

We wanted to give you the thoughts of the actors closest to the fire, as well as the chance to see some more of the incredible images that were captured on the set this week by photographers Todd Stone and Hayley Catt.

“I’ve been looking forward to this since we went through training a few weeks ago. But it was a whole lot more intense than I thought it would be. I always wanted to be a firefighter. Now I’m consumed with it. I would love to do it for real, especially now that I know these real guys.”
Jason McLeod (Eric Harmon)

“It was just awesome. It really was a blast from the past. But it was different, because we kept doing the same scene over and over again. It took its toll; it was exhausting. Doing this one or two days every 15 years is good for me.”
Former AFD firefighter Eric Young (Terrell Sanders)

“I have a new appreciation for firefighters. Of all the days we’ve shot, this was one of the most exciting. One of the best scenes in FACING THE GIANTS is the death crawl. Alex has been calling this scene the ‘death crawl on fire.’”
Kirk Cameron (Capt. Caleb Holt)

“It was by far the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time. I can’t say enough about how the city of Albany has been to us. The fire looked more real than I thought it would.”
Stephen Dervan (Wayne Floyd)

“Today was amazing. It gave us an opportunity to see what real firefighters go through. I have a much greater appreciation for the service they give us each day.”
Ken Bevel (Lt. Michael Simmons)
Finally, when told she did a great job of playing dead, the youngest member of the cast said:
“I don’t play dead; I play unconscious.”
Jade Young (Lacie)