A benefit of focusing on creativity is that I get to talk to creative people. One recent example is Stephen Kendrick, co-creator of the recent hit movie Fireproof. Of course, my interview is about their view on creativity and how they execute creativity both for ideas and problem solving. I spoke by phone with Stephen for about half an hour; he was gracious to give me that time. With all the publicity they’re getting, I’m honored that they’d talk to my little blog.
Headquarters in Albany, Georgia—yes, a small town in Georgia—is proof again that you don’t have to live in New York, Los Angeles or a major city to take your idea to the world. …Anyway. I talked with Stephen about the original idea for the movie. In essence, he says that one day the idea hit his brother to do a story about marriage and the brothers prayed about it. They also got the idea of using a fire fighter who can rescue others but can’t save his own dying marriage. Now, I’m paraphrasing a bit so don’t get the idea that Stephen was walking in a field and the clouds parted and the sun shown down and a voice from Heaven gave him every detail of the plot. It took work. Stephen and his brother talked it out with their wives and others involved with the production company. Then they sat on the idea a bit. Remember, as I say in the book: sometimes it’s best to walk away from an idea/problem and come back to it. But that’s not a new idea is it?
Stephen said they knew they were on the right track when they began to notice everything “fire fighter.” This phenomenon is hardly new. It happens quite a lot when you start on a path. After you buy a car you start to see your car everywhere when you didn’t notice that style or make before. But what Stephen describes is of interest because it wasn’t just fire fighters he noticed. Marriage information about fire fighters came in from the news, friends, etc. Now, I’m one who pays attention to those “useless” bits of information that barrage us daily from news to advertising and movies. But I don’t recall it being newsworthy to report on the divorce rate of fire fighters. Stephen says the inflow of fire fighter information definitely was abnormal. Similar information also came to others associated with the production company.
You’ll notice that Stephen and crew didn’t immediately act on the idea. They put it on hold—an uncommon response in our times. No, we want to be first and go with our first idea and fall in love with our first idea . . . so we chase that idea as fast as we can. Now, there are times when execution of an idea should be quick, but there are times you need to think through. Like my TV show. I’ve never produced a TV show before and I’d like my first shot at being on TV to be the best possible. I have the luxury of choosing my deadline in this instance so I don’t mind having a lengthy bit of time between shooting subjects. It drives others involved crazy that I’m not in a hurry to get it done. But what can they do? I’m calling the shots.
So after the Fireporoof premise was set, the Kendrick brothers took to production—as they did with Facing the Giants and Flywheel, their previous works. This production was especially creative. Normally with the size of idea you’d expect copious amounts of money, extra’s, equipment, scheduling, and all the little whatnots in a typical Hollywood movie. Volunteers are one thing, but imagine almost a whole city volunteering time, money, and food for a movie. Without return. In LA you’d be lucky to get the extra’s to volunteer. From what I understand, it was as if the whole town of Albany was involved. So I want to encourage you now to ask, seek, knock on every door you can to get your idea off the ground. You’d be surprised at where help comes from.
Was the entire shoot was one big blissful event? It wasn’t. Stephen told me just one story of trying to get a wrecked car onto some railroad tracks for an accident scene. He describes the location as being out in the middle of nowhere: a few houses were behind them near where the railroad track met the road. That was it. The tow truck that delivered the car could not get the wrecked car onto the tracks into the right position and they were loosing daylight. Stephen says the nearest town was too far away to return in time with a crane or a fork lift. So cast and crew gathered and prayed for a solution. Sure enough, after they were done, a gentleman from the house behind them came out and said, “You guys need a fork lift to move that car?” And sure enough, he went into his back yard, started up his own fork lift and moved the car into position to lift the Fireproof car off the tracks. How’s that for a creative look at problem solving?
As most of my readers know, I don’t fear talking about God and creativity. It makes total sense if you’ll unplug your dogmatic thoughts for minute or two. Consider that of the 100 most influential people in history, 86 percent had a religious background. And only 5 percent were atheistic. Think about those numbers in the scheme of the trillions of people who have existed. If you are atheistic in your thinking you only have a 5 percent chance of doing something of note to the world. But if you are willing to tap into that “unknown” metaphysical realm you have an 86 percent chance. Which do you think is more apt to generate influential ideas? …I thought so. There’s more to those numbers, but you’ll have to wait for the TV show.
In closing, I find very interesting the creative tack that Fireproof delivers. It could have been just another movie. But from the start, it has been a movement. Did Backdraft or Ladder 49 inspire marriages across the globe with additional material like books, groups, sermons (for the good), and more? I don’t think so. I’m a lover of creativity and ideas that have multiple layers of thought and use. The Fireproof crew did a great job. Whether you agree with its spiritual message, you understand that the making of Fireproof is about more than a movie.
After a long and robust run, the movie is out of theaters. On January 27, the CD hits stores. If I were you, if I could get my hands on a few DVD’s, I’d sure get one. Times are tough, they’re not that tough, it’s worth the investment. www.fireproofthemovie.com