Flywheel film poster
|Directed by||Alex Kendrick|
|Produced by||Alex Kendrick|
|Written by||Alex Kendrick
|Music by||Alex Kendrick
|Editing by||Alex Kendrick
|Release dates||April 9, 2003|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Flywheel is a 2003 American Christian drama film about the unexpected pitfalls that a used car dealer can expect to experience if he suddenly goes honest. The dealer intentionally overcharges his customers until reaching a turning point in his life where he decides to end his shady business practices and become a Christian. Alex Kendrick both directed the film and starred in the lead role, and with his brother, Stephen Kendrick, co-wrote the film. Flywheel also stars Lisa Arnold and Tracy Goode.
Filming of Flywheel began in November 2002 and continued through 2003 by the Sherwood Baptist Church team. The film was shot digitally to avoid film processing expenses. The filmmakers set a budget of $20,000 for production costs, and used church members as the cast and production crew. Stephen Kendrick said, "We produced Flywheel with one Canon XL1s camera, G4 Mac computers and some Final Cut Pro editing software." It was released to theaters on April 9, 2003, and a director's cut DVD was released on November 13, 2007.
Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick) is a car salesman who consistently cheats his customers, even to the point of overcharging his own pastor. He teaches his rotund salesmen, Bernie Meyers (Tracy Goode) and Vince Berkeley (Treavor Lokey), to do likewise. Jay occasionally attends church, but only because his wife wants him to go. He also fakes giving a donation to the church, and his relationship with his wife and son deteriorates. One day while flipping television channels, he sees his pastor preaching that "you're in the shape you're in today because of the choices you've made". Jay becomes personally convicted and becomes a born-again Christian, prompting him to change his business practices.
Jay decides to sell cars honestly from that point on. He apologizes to the local community, as well as to his wife and son. He is also informed that his wife is pregnant. However, he is now thousands of dollars in debt and facing the loss of his dealership if he can't catch up on his payments to the bank. Jay decides not to worry about his situation and to "let God handle it." After the two rotund salesmen leave over a disagreement about the newly reformed business practices, a young, innocent-looking "newcomer" Kevin Cantrell (Daniel Titus) comes to Jay to work for six weeks and asks him questions, such as how he sells cars. Jay answers by saying, "Just sell the car to them by its real price and God will decide". Sales are honest, but the amounts are mediocre at best. Kevin leaves after the six weeks, and, not longer after, Jay sees himself on television. Kevin was a carefully concealed undercover agent investigating which car dealers cheat. The next day, Jay comes to the lot and sees many people there to buy his cars. He calls his wife to help sell the cars, and they sell all the cars on the lot that day. The total of the sales above the cost of the cars is enough to cover what the banker demanded plus enough to repay all the old customers the amounts Jay had overcharged them.
Days after that, he gets a live television interview from reporter Hillary Vale of WALB-TV. On camera, Jay sees his now former employee Bernie saying that Jay Austin is a cheater. Since Jay had just finished visiting his old customers to return the amounts he had overcharged them, the customers, presumably all seeing the news, waste no time to visit the lot to tell Hillary that there is more to the story. At home his wife and son watch him on television when his wife starts to feel contractions. Jay exits the interview and rushes home to send his wife to the hospital. She gives birth to a girl named Faith, to stand as a living reminder of Jay's newfound faith in God. At the end of the film, Jay drives away with his son in his 1958 Triumph TR3 with a newly installed flywheel (thus the film's title).
- Alex Kendrick as Jay Austin
- Janet Lee Dapper as Judy Austin
- Roger Breland as Mr. Austin
- Richie Hunnewell as Todd Austin
- Lisa Arnold as Hillary Vale
- Walter Burnett as Max Kendall
- Tracy Goode as Bernie Meyers
- Rutha Harris as Katie Harris
- Treavor Lokey as Vince Berkeley
- Steve Moore as Dan Michaels
- Marc Keenan as Sam Jones
- Daniel Titus as Kevin Cantrell
- Mac George as George MacDonald
Flywheel was released through Carmike Cinemas in Tifton and Columbus, Georgia. The film ultimately grossed $37,000 theatrically. It was novelized by suspense writer Eric Wilson, titled Flywheel and published by Thomas Nelson, in 2008.
Flywheel: Director's Cut was released to DVD on November 17, 2007. DVD sales of the film were more successful, with more than 300,000 copies sold. The director's cut included an eight-part Bible study as one of its special features. Stephen Kendrick said, "They are color correcting [the Director's Cut of] Flywheel. They are adding better sound effects and some things like that. Adding a director's commentary. It will be a director's cut version. A new cover on it, adding a couple of extra languages." Six minutes of the film were removed, making the running time 114 minutes.
- 2004 WYSIWYG Film Festival
- Best Feature Film
- 2004 ICVM Crown Awards
- Best Evangelistic Film
- Best Screenplay
- Best Drama under $250,000
- 2004 Sabaoth International Film Festival
- Best Screenplay
- Best Production
- Parable Award
- Westbury, Joe (September 26, 2006). "Lights, camera, evangelize! Facing the Giants set for release". The Christian Index. Baptist Press. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- Foust, Michael (February 16, 2009). "'Fireproof' makers prepare for next film". Baptist Press. Church Executive Magazine. Retrieved December 15, 2009.[dead link]
- Bearden, Michelle (September 27, 2008). "Film's Producers On Fire For Lord". Tampa Tribune. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Keegan, Rebecca Winters (October 3, 2008). "Fireproof: When Filmmakers Believe in Miracles". Time. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- "Notable DVDs being released Tuesday include". The Washington Post. November 9, 2007. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- Wallace, Jim (July 24, 2007). "Sherwood's film debut in re-release". WALB. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
- "Flywheel arrives on DVD with a director’s cut". Monsters and Critics. September 3, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
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