The latest movie from Kendrick Brothers Productions uses North Carolina as a backdrop for a story about spiritual warfare.
“I think with what we’re seeing in our culture … our churches need to be called back to prayer,” said Scott Davis, pastor of Pitts Baptist Church in Concord.
Pitts Baptist, along with more than 80 churches in 19 different towns in and around Charlotte helped make “War Room” possible.
More than 1,000 people volunteered to help in a variety of ways with the movie, which opens Aug. 28.
An Upward basketball event held at Pitts triggered the church’s involvement. A member of the film’s production crew came to the church to see a family member play and called Alex and Stephen Kendrick about the site’s possibilities. A couple of days later the brothers visited the church to see the facilities.
“They had been praying and praying and praying about the right location,” Davis said. “From a human standpoint … we could say coincidence, yet Jesus said, ‘My Father’s house should be about prayer.’”
Other sites considered included Orlando, Nashville and Birmingham.
“We found everything we needed to produce this movie here,” said Stephen Kendrick, “the homes, businesses and even our Miss Clara; we’ve been blown away by Charlotte. God is clearly at work here in so many ways.”
Filming in downtown Charlotte and in Kannapolis, Concord, Hickory and Huntersville, the Kendrick Brothers Productions project spent three months in the area and employed a cast of 45 and crew ranging between 85 and 100 people.
Film crews shot scenes in Pitts Baptist’s sanctuary and multi-purpose facility.
For three long days, Jonathan Turner, Pitts’ minister of music, helped the crew with sound and lighting.
Turner said while the work was exhausting, “it was neat and exciting” to be part of the filming. The heart of the Kendrick brothers impressed Turner. They started each day with a morning devotion.
There were prayer captains whose “sole job was to come and pray during production of movie,” Turner said.
The church provided some meals and loaned the crew 15- and 32-passenger vans to use with transporting cast and crew. Members served as extras during some of the filming and helped with transportation and set security.
Jim Strickland, a retired truck driver, said watching the process was “fascinating.” It reminded him of being in the Army in that there was a lot of “hurry up and wait.”
Strickland said he and others from Pitts felt welcomed by the crew and cast.
“Everyone was gracious as they could possibly be,” he said.
Strickland went to several church campuses, moving people and equipment from one place to another.
“It’s just like everybody … was of one mind and one heart on this thing … even though they didn’t know the full message,” he said. “I [could] already see this was going to be a powerful movie about prayer.”
Retired school bus driver Dan Collingwood spent time driving the church bus as well as equipment trucks.
“It was quite an experience,” he said, seeing how many times they shot a scene, “sometimes all day. We saw God’s hand unfolding in the making of the movie.”
The first day of filming in Concord, the crew’s rental truck battery died in front of the house where they were filming. A wrecker had come to move a dumpster down the street and jumped the battery. The wrecker’s driver said this was his second trip that day because the dumpster was blocked earlier.
“He came back at the right time,” Collingwood said.
Collingwood said from the very first day “you could just feel the Lord; every one of us got on our knees and dedicated” the movie to God.
The crew tried filming a scene in a Concord cemetery but had been rained out one day. The next day started sunny so filming began but weather radar was tracking a storm coming straight for Concord.
The cast and crew stopped to pray God would allow them to finish the scene.
Collingwood said he sat in his truck watching the radar on his phone.
“The storm dipped and went around Concord and came back up,” he said.
Across the country there have been screenings of War Room. Pastors as well as other church leaders have been invited to see the film and asked to host a showing at their local theater on opening weekend.
War Room, along with “Woodlawn,” a film by the Erwin brothers, were screened at the Southern Baptist Convention June 15-16. Alex and Stephen Kendrick talked about their movie before and after the June 15 screening of War Room.
“We have a very real enemy,” Alex Kendrick said. “Your spouse is not your enemy; your deacons are not your enemy.”
Premieres of the film happened June 25 in Charlotte and June 29 in Orlando. Other premieres are scheduled in Dallas, Atlanta and New York in August.
Pitts plans to fill a theater Aug. 30 and use some of the LifeWay Christian Resources materials to teach their people to pray.
“Any change is going to have to come about in and through prayer,” said Davis, who was at the recent screening in Charlotte.
The movie has “got everything … comedy … suspense,” Davis said. “It really does encourage believers to have prayer strategy in their lives.”