Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a press conference for the upcoming movie CLOUDS that will be premiering on Disney+ on October 16th. The press conference featured director/producer Justin Baldoni, actors Fin Argus, as Zach Sobiech, Sabrina Carpenter, as Sammy Brown, Madison Iseman, as Amy Adamle, Neve Cambell, as Laura Sobiech, and Tom Everett Scott, as Rob Sobiech.
For those unfamiliar with the film’s background, CLOUDS is an inspiring true story about Zach Sobiech, a seventeen-year-old high school senior living with a rare bone cancer, and a great love for music. During his senior year of high school, Zach finds out that his cancer has now spread throughout his body, and he has a limited amount of time left. With the bit of time he does have, he decides to form a band, A Firm Handshake, and create an album with his best friend, Sammy. This gives way to the beautiful song “Clouds” that inspired many people, went viral, and then hit number 1.
The movie, which stemmed from the documentary “My Last Days,” a memoir written by Laura Sobiech, and a promise made by Justin, already had an audience from the story that spread across the country back in 2013. If you have seen the documentary, you know that Zach would be quite a character for Fin to fill. The family surrounding him and the support team he had for himself were also an integral part of Zach’s depth and needed to be cast correctly for the film to catch the essence of strength and love that the documentary captured so beautifully. While attending the conference, we learned how the process all began, the challenges the actors faced, and what they carry with them from the film. Justin was asked if he could walk us through the project’s genesis, and when it hit him that he had to continue telling Zach’s story to the world in CLOUDS.
“The genesis began when I found him while I was shooting “My Last Days,” Season 1, when I found him on SoulPancake, seven years ago. And after — actually, before I left that documentary, we started talking about ways to further his story with him and his mom. He really wanted to do more. So after I left, I made a promise to him. Actually, I was FaceTiming with him and Amy just before he passed away, and I made a promise to him that I would do whatever I could to further his story and make sure that music, and his message, and obviously his fund, the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, was just seen by as many people all over the world and would hopefully raise money to end childhood cancer. And shortly after that, his mom wrote the book.”
Once the book came out, he reached out to Laura about taking things to the next level, and the journey bloomed from there. This being Fin’s first time leading a feature film, he states how the cast helped support him throughout the process. “I was nervous, but I had an incredible support system, not only with Justin as an incredible actor’s director, he’s been through it all. He knows what it’s like on the other side, so I think that gives him a very unique perspective on directing young actors. And also, just an incredible cast and crew. Everyone was so in it with their heart, and we had this support system that went beyond just it being a job. And I feel like I had a family to lean on while we were filming this, which it’s such a vulnerable thing to do, is open up about these types of emotions, even if it’s just on camera.”
The question that I was most intrigued to hear the answers from was “What is something that they experienced making this movie, or that they tapped into as far as the Sobiech family’s experience goes that they found themselves carrying with them for the better?” Sabrina made a note that it feels like two different points in time now, BC/AC (Before CLOUDS and After CLOUDS), and that a movie like CLOUDS resonates and sticks with you. But in the end, all of the answers had the same core: an appreciation for life, and a positive outlook on the time we have left here.
Zach Sobreich’s story and music left a significant impact on the people around him and anyone who has heard it. CLOUDS shines light and optimism on what we, as people, can be and what the human connection and hope can bring out in all of us.
CLOUDS arrives on Disney+ October 16, 2020.