In late February, with little warning (or explanation), a trailer for Family First: The Marshawn Lynch Story hit the Internet, only to disappear within days. And if its star has his way, that’s the last you’ll ever see of it.
Of course, since this is 2015, you can still find the trailer if you know where to look, and all it takes is one viewing to realize why the Beast Mode biopic – which features Lynch, his Lamborghini and lots of swearing – was shelved indefinitely. To call it “low budget” would be charitable, though you can’t knock the hustle of the man responsible for the film, longtime family friend Mario Bobino, who saw the project as his big break after a career spent churning out fare like The Female Law Firm.
Bobino says Lynch approached him about directing the film, and the Seattle running back’s involvement helped him secure $100,000 to get it made. The only problem? Seems Lynch’s camp wasn’t happy with his decision to release the trailer without their knowledge. Or Bobino’s work, for that matter.
“He did a terrible job, and the film will never be released,” Lynch’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, tells Rolling Stone.
And, since Lynch holds the rights to the film, that appears to be the end of Family First. But Bobino is undeterred. His movie may be dead, but he’s currently writing a script about his struggles making it, and the events that transpired after that fateful trailer was released. He’s not angry; rather, he feels he must clear his name, no matter what.
“My story is the truth, so people know what happened and what I had to deal with,” he says. “If that movie had come out and it would have been successful, I would have gotten no credit. Now that it’s considered a failure, everyone is pointing the finger at Mario Bobino.”
It bears mention that Bobino was the one who not only edited the trailer, but chose to release it without Lynch’s approval. But it’s also worth noting that this was clearly a passion project for the 52-year-old director: Once his initial $100,000 budget ran out – Lynch’s agent told RS his client reimbursed the attorney who made that investment – Bobino dipped into his retirement savings, spending another $18,000 to keep the production afloat. When it became clear that Family First wouldn’t be released, he went back to work as a juvenile probation officer in order to pay some of crew who had worked on the film.
Bobino has known Lynch’s mother, Delisa, since he played peewee football and she was a cheerleader. He got his media productions degree at Sacramento State in 1987, once worked for San Francisco’s KTVU and started his own company, Debonair Productions. But he would always stay close to football, filming high school games and helping kids – including for Lynch and his cousin, Josh Johnson – edit highlight tapes to send to potential colleges. In 1996, he made a documentary about Marshawn’s uncle, former NFL defensive back Lorenzo Lynch, and was quoted earlier this year in a Contra Costa Times article about the Oakland Athletic League game where “Beast Mode” was born.
In short, Bobino says he’s always been close with Lynch – but as of now, the two don’t even speak.
“It will never be the same between us,” he says. “I think the issue with me and him now is a trust issue. He doesn’t trust me anymore, so that’s why the movie isn’t going to come out. It’s a trust issue with me now because I put out that promo out with his consent.”
Bobino is hopeful that eventually, he can repair his relationship with Lynch, and admits that perhaps it’s a good thing his film will never be released. Maybe Lynch was just putting family first, in ways Bobino now seems to understand.
“We all make mistakes in life,” he says, “and I made a mistake.”