Originally from Athens, Georgia, the Kendrick brothers grew up northwest of Atlanta in the community of Smyrna. As sons of an ordained minister and schoolteacher, Shannon, Alex, and Stephen developed a love for creative arts. As preteens, they began shooting movies on Super 8 mm film. After their parents bought them a video camera, the brothers were periodically reprimanded for pushing the boundaries of safe judgment. Shots of dodging cars, detonating fireworks, or high falls resulted in more than a few near misses and minor injuries. While their parents nurtured their film-making, they also encouraged their sons to study the Scriptures for themselves and develop a personal relationship with God.
Shannon, the eldest, graduated from Georgia Tech and joined IBM. Alex and Stephen received communications degrees from Kennesaw State University, attended seminary, and were ordained as ministers. They served on the staff at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia until 1999 when Alex accepted the position of Associate Pastor of Media at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Two years later, Stephen joined Alex at Sherwood. Together they continued to create videos to support ministry needs.
During Alex's job interview, he shared his dream of making full-length Christian movies one day. In 2002, Alex approached senior pastor, Michael Catt, with an idea to make a low-budget, full-length movie as an outreach to the community. The pastor agreed, provided that Alex fulfill his normal responsibilities and that the money be “prayed in” since the church budget could not spare the estimated $20,000 to produce the movie.
After weeks of prayer, several church members generously gave the needed funds, and Alex began writing the script for Flywheel – the story of a dishonest, used-car salesman who comes to grips with his need for repentance and places his faith in God. Stephen joined the effort, along with dozens of church volunteers, and production began on November 22, 2002.
Alex and Stephen quickly realized that shooting a full-length movie was much more complex than they expected. Technical hurdles, scheduling conflicts, and editing setbacks made the project very difficult to complete. Flywheel's first full rendering was finished at 6 AM on April 9, 2003, only hours before its premiere at Albany's Carmike Cinema.
With only a bare-minimum advertising budget, the brothers' prayers were answered when TV, radio, and newspaper reporters came calling. Many moviegoers admitted that they expected to see an embarrassing production, but left inspired and challenged by the story. Flywheel unexpectedly sold out multiple show times and was the week's second highest-grossing movie of the cinema's sixteen screens. The response thrilled both the Kendricks and the church. Though the theater had only planned to screen Flywheel for one weekend, the movie was extended for six weeks.
Sherwood decided to offer Flywheel on DVD, but after selling all 1,000 units on the first day, the church struggled to keep up with demand. Christian bookstores, Blockbuster Video, and movie catalogs requested Flywheel for their inventories. The movie later aired on five television networks and garnered seven film festival awards including the Gold Crown Award for Best Screenplay from ICVM.
While Flywheel continued to expand, Alex and Stephen began asking God for another movie plot. After months of prayer, they began writing the script for Facing the Giants – a high school football story about facing fear with faith. The brothers prayed for $100,000 and a high-definition camera to improve production quality. Without any formal fund raising, individuals began giving money and the needed resources to start another project.
In May 2004, production began on Facing the Giants with Alex directing and Stephen producing. The Sherwood volunteers were supplemented with five paid professionals who led the production teams. The football venture was shot over six weeks using a single Panasonic high definition camera.
After completing the edit in April 2005, Alex screened Giants for several distributors, but he received no interest for a theatrical release. As distribution doors closed, the Sherwood team prayed for God to somehow make a way. When Stephen sought permission to license a song from Provident Label Group in Nashville, the company president watched Facing the Giants and immediately asked for the distribution rights. Provident then sent the movie to its new parent company, Sony. Within weeks, the groups met and partnered to release the movie nationwide in 441 theaters on September 29, 2006.
Unexpected publicity occurred when The Drudge Report posted that Facing the Giants had received a PG rating for “explicit Christian content”. To Hollywood's surprise, Giants exceeded box-office expectations, earning $10.1 million in theaters and selling over 2.5 million units on DVD. Once again, the Kendrick brothers and Sherwood were thrilled and pointed to God as the clear source of any success. The DVD was released in 57 countries and Sony added Flywheel to its video catalog where it would later approach a million units sold.
Emails and phone calls began arriving by the hundreds each day from around the world as viewers responded to Facing the Giants. Thousands reported new faith in Jesus Christ and shared amazing stories about God working in their lives. Business leaders, politicians, and football coaches used “the death crawl” scene to motivate their teams. Sherwood was overwhelmed with ministry opportunities and hired additional personnel to respond to emails and calls. Thomas Nelson Publishers approached the Kendrick brothers and asked to publish the novelizations of Flywheel and Facing the Giants.
Behind the scenes, Alex and Stephen had been praying for months for another storyline. God began inspiring them to write a marriage-themed script called Fireproof. In September 2007, with Provident Films as partner, the camera rolled on Fireproof using a dozen professionals, 1,200 volunteers, and a budget of $500,000.
As a plot device, Alex developed the idea of a 40-day challenge called The Love Dare. Publishers were intrigued by the concept, and Alex initially thought of asking a well-known author to develop the book. Stephen disagreed, believing that God was preparing them to write it. After Fireproof was complete, the brothers began researching and crafting The Love Dare as a ministry tool for couples. On September 26, 2008, Provident Films released Fireproof in 905 theaters while Thomas Nelson Publishers published the Fireproof novel and B&H Publishers simultaneously released The Love Dare.
Fireproof became the top-rated movie on Yahoo, generated $33.4 million at the box office, and became the #1 independent film of 2008. The brothers were surprised when both The Love Dare and Fireproof novel landed on the New York Times Bestsellers List. The Love Dare was #1 for 14 weeks and remained a New York Times Bestseller for four years. The Fireproof DVD would sell over 3.5 million units in 75 countries.
Not surprisingly, Sherwood was flooded with emails, calls, and visitors. Thousands of testimonies arrived of marriages being saved and families being restored. Proceeds from the movies were used to build an 82-acre sports park and fund mission work and new church plants.
By Fall 2008, the brothers were exhausted, and their pastor encouraged them to take a sabbatical rest. By the following summer, God had turned their hearts toward the vital issue of fatherhood. After months of research, Alex and Stephen wrote the script for Courageous – the story of four police officers and the struggles they face at work and at home.
In May 2010, 28 professionals and 1,700 volunteers began production on Courageous with a budget of $1 million. After positive test screenings, TriStar Pictures released Courageous in 1,214 theaters on September 30, 2011. With a message that challenges men to lovingly lead their families, Courageous opened to the highest per-screen average of the top 40 movies and received an A+ CinemaScore rating. Generating $34.5 million at the box office, TriStar expanded the theatrical release to 20 countries where viewers drove up to four hours to see the faith-based drama. In January 2012, the Courageous DVD was released and became the #1 selling DVD in the country.
The brothers, along with pastor Michael Catt and several cast members, began speaking across the nation and in other countries about the role of men as the spiritual leaders and protectors of their homes. Bestselling author, Randy Alcorn, agreed to write the novelization for Courageous, while Alex and Stephen focused on writing a related book called The Resolution for Men. Additionally, they asked Priscilla Shirer to pen a companion book, The Resolution for Women. Surprisingly, all three books appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers List and thousands of men participated in study groups and resolution ceremonies around the world.
Alex and Stephen spent a year consulting and helping other Christian filmmakers on their films, and they prayerfully discussed with the pastor about launching out to mentor and train the next generation of Christian filmmakers. In April 2013, Pastor Catt and the church gave Alex and Stephen their blessing to step beyond Sherwood and expand their film-making ministry.
The first step in expanding the Kendrick Brothers team was to hire Shannon, who resigned from IBM and joined his two brothers. Kim Sancinito, who had volunteered as a production office manager, was hired as an executive assistant. Shannon now handles business and technical operations while Kim handles scheduling, travel, and a vast array of administrative details. In November of 2013, Brenda Harris joined the Kendrick team as communications associate.
In 2013, adding to the impact of the Love Dare books, the brothers partnered with LifeWay research on LoveDareTest.com, a free online marriage and parenting assessment, and then completed The Love Dare for Parents (released July 2013), a 40-day challenge to help parents win the hearts of their children.
During the summer of 2013, the brothers were hard at work on the script for their next feature film. Through much prayer, the script was completed and for the first time, the Kendricks began the process of determining where to film Movie 5. God opened doors and gave direction and production for Movie 5 began in late spring in the Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina area. Filming wrapped in late July, 2014 and now the team is hard at work on post-production. They anticipate a fall 2015 release for this movie on prayer.
The Kendrick brothers plan to continue investing in the next generation and producing films and books intended to change lives and honor God.