Sherwood Pictures takes 'Courageous' step forward

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- As law enforcement officers in the Good Life City, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes and their partners are confident and focused on the job. Yet, when they take their badges off and go home, they come across challenges they are not prepared to face.

This is the premise behind Sherwood Pictures' newest film venture "Courageous," which has just completed its second week of filming.

"It (the production) is going very well," said Stephen Kendrick, movie producer and senior associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church.

There are a total of seven weeks of filming scheduled that will be spread out over a few months to allow the crew to take some personal time for their families.

"The crew takes breaks to spend time with their families," Kendrick said. "We are trying to protect the families that are involved."

That mentality ties in well with the movie's message, which focuses on fatherhood. "We prayed for (inspiration) for a year after 'Fireproof,'" recalled Kendrick. "The more we looked into it, the more we saw the incredible reward of fathers getting involved with their children -- and you see the consequences if it (paternal involvement) does not happen.

"If you want to get to the core of a person, have them talk about their dad."

This movie is not necessarily meant to downplay the role of mothers, Kendrick said.

"In a lot of cases, the father is not there, so they are filling both roles," he said.

The film will center on four sheriff's deputies who have trouble fulfilling their fatherly duties. They eventually gain insight into their roles through their interactions with area gang members.

"We see a common thread that most people involved with gangs don't have a dad," Kendrick said. "As the sheriff's deputies interact with them (the gang members), they realize they need to be involved with their kids' lives."

One of those four ends up learning this lesson the hard way.

"One of the deputies loses a family member and realizes he didn't redeem the time he had," Kendrick said.

The movie will also tell the story of a fifth man whose life falls on the other end of the spectrum. "We are showing both sides of it," Kendrick said.

The movie's producer said that audiences can expect humor and more action than has been seen in the previous three films -- as well as an intense opening scene.

In order to enhance the quality of the film, the production crew is using new camera technology known as the RED. "We have been able to take the technology to another level," Kendrick said. "The RED camera is becoming famous; Peter Jackson is using it.

"The footage looks phenomenal."

The producers also expanded their capabilities in the search for acting talent. Roughly half of the cast comprises church volunteers, while the other half were brought in after invitation-only audition sessions were conducted.

The results brought in actors from throughout the country, but Kendrick said moviegoers should not be expecting to see big name acts such as Kirk Cameron, who appeared as the main character in "Fireproof."

"We were open (to having big names), but we had specific things we were looking for," he said. "We're all right with this, because we don't want people to see them as stars."

From their roles as cast members to meal providers, Kendrick said the volunteers have been a big part of the overall project.

"We have volunteers behind the scenes fulfilling key, important roles," he said. "They are doing anything to stretch out the budget we have.

"They are not just there for the paycheck; they want to be there."

When the final receipt is counted, Kendrick said he estimates a production budget exceeding $1 million -- double that of "Fireproof." "We hope people will look at it as a $5 million or more film," he said.

All the shooting for the movie is slated to take place in the Albany and Dougherty County area, specifically at locations such as the Dougherty County Jail. Officials estimate a release date for summer or fall 2011.

Based on the enthusiasm seen so far for the film, Kendrick said he would anticipate a very positive reception.

"There is already a ton of momentum on our website, and we've got churches across the nation praying for us," he said.

Sherwood Pictures has also produced "Facing the Giants" and "Flywheel," its initial film venture. "Fireproof" was released in September 2008, generating $33 million in less than 1,000 theaters. It remained in the top 10 for three consecutive weeks following its release while competing against movies showing on more than double the number of screens.

For more information regarding the progress of "Courageous," or to see clips from the film, visit www.courageousthemovie.com.