Twenty-five-year old Bobby Sain grew up in Vale. He attended West Lincoln High and throughout his childhood thought his two top career options were teaching or farming, he laughed. But he had big dreams of big city life. What he may not have known, however, was just how big those dreams would become and the journey it would take him to get there.
The Lincoln County native is currently working on a star-filled film, “The Butler,” directed by Lee Daniels of the Academy Award-winner “Precious.” Those on the roster include John Cusack, Robin Williams and Oprah, among various other big-name celebrities. The production tells the story of a White House-butler who served eight U.S. presidents throughout the course of three decades, and all that entails.
Sain is one of the associate producers on staff, and primarily focuses on the financial aspect of the project — getting funds for the film through investors and making sure The Butler is profitable, he said.
“No one is that interested in hearing about the investing part of movies, but that’s where movies come from and where the money is made,” Sain told the Times-News on Monday.
But before he made the move from small-town farm life to New York — where he currently lives — he was Bobby, an Appalachian State graduate raised in an education-centered family. His mother, a retired county schools teacher, his sister, a physical education instructor at North Brook Elementary, and her 8-month older daughter Tessa have been his biggest fans throughout the process.
He, like both of his parents, also has a passion for music, that led him to getting his bachelor’s degree in Music Industry Studies. That’s where his story starts.
During his senior year at App. State, he went to Miami with a music club he was a member of. He entered a marketing contest while he was there and won the prize of an internship in New York — in 2010.
He graduated and made the trip less than a week later, a hectic week, he remembered.
At first, Sain wanted to get involved with acting, but realized shortly after college that he “had a knack” for film production and finding actors to fill appropriate roles.
While in New York, he started his own business with a friend that later fell through after empty promises from investors that left Sain and his and partner low on funds and in a tough spot. Sain decided he wasn’t ready to completely call it quits, though, and made the move to Nashville with a friend shortly after.
“It was a hard time and we didn’t have a lot of money,” Sain said. “But I wasn’t ready to go back home, not yet.”
More than 300 project ideas and failed attempts later, he met someone through a mutual friend who was involved with “The Butler” and asked him whether he was able to help find funding for the A-List-dominated film. He jumped at the chance and has been working with the project ever since, raising about $3 million of the estimated $17 million-budget so far.
Filming is currently taking place in New Orleans. In the meantime, Sain is thinking over other project ideas from an autobiography to bringing a film to North Carolina — a full circle for him that he would like to accomplish in his career, he said.
“I’d like to have local people who want to invest in a project here to be a part of it,” Sain said. “It would be really cool to bring something like that here.”
Sain hopes to keep his humility and continue to be curious about what’s happening around him, he said, and believes that taking something for what it is at face value with no questions asked isn’t the way he wants to live his life — and he won’t.
He has future plans of moving to the west coast, Los Angeles, to escape the high cost of living in New York and (he hopes) to live in a more relaxed atmosphere. Parts of California are similar to Lincoln County, there are just more people and it’s near the beach not just the mountains, he said.
Sain has been spending time with his family over the last few days and is using the change of pace to work on a little writing as well.
“The Butler” is scheduled to be released around November of next year.