Sherwood Pictures’ Courageous

Film news site Dark Horizons have been running a very useful series of posts about next year’s intriguing films, running through every genre you can think of. The 3rd entry is focused on titles beginning with C and apart from the obvious choices like Conan and Cowboys and Aliens, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

Opens: September 30th 2011
Cast: Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, Ben Davies, Matt Hardwick, Ken Bevel
Director: Alex Kendrick

Summary: Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives.

Analysis: When it comes to business models, Sherwood Pictures has one many film companies would envy. A production company outlet owned by a Georgia-based Baptist Church, Sherwood produces low budget independent features about various subjects with strong Christian moral messages. It then uses mostly word of mouth marketing amongst churches and faith-based organisations to garner support to help promote and distribute the film.

Scoff all you like, Hollywood certainly did at first. Then in 2006, their football drama feature “Facing the Giants” hauled in a solid $10 million from a budget of only $10,000. Two years later, the fireman & marriage-themed drama “Fireproof” started out with a more serious budget ($500,000) and managed to outpace quite a few studio titles in the quiet early Fall period of that year, hauling in an impressive total of $33.5 million. That got a lot of attention, so much so that reportedly around 170 media outlets visited the set of their new film.

This fourth feature is an exploration of father/son relationships against the backdrop of the police force. With a bigger budget of just over $1 million, a stronger rating (PG-13 rather than the usual PG for these films), and use of the Red One camera to give the film much higher production values than the previous ones, the obvious aim is to deliver a feature that will not just energise the faithful but potentially crossover and reach a mass audience. It’s doubtful this will be that film, but as Sherwood have demonstrated before – one shouldn’t underestimate them.

I must admit that of the 3 films this faithful and resourceful church have made so far, I’ve only see their 2nd one, Facing The Giants, which really was their breakthrough. It’s a great emotional and spiritual film, helped greatly by the uplifting extras on the DVD too. If you haven’t already, go watch it, as it deserves more recognition than simply being seen as a “Christian movie.”

I’m looking forward to Courageous, and as someone who’s made a few short films in my day, and who firmly believes in God’s creativity as a gift, this will be on my must see list.

Find out more about Courageous here and the fine folks at Sherwood Pictures here. The film opens on September 30 next year.

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