“Zach inspired people to live better. If we did it right, then the movie would do the same,” explains director Justin Baldoni. He is referring to Zach Sobiech, the teenage singer-songwriter whose life is depicted in Baldoni’s Disney+ film “Clouds.” The story was chronicled in an episode of Baldoni’s documentary series “My Last Days,” which followed individuals battling terminal illnesses with a sense of hope and joy. After Sobiech eventually passed away, Baldoni was determined to share his inspiring story with a wider audience. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Baldoni reveals that while Zach was still alive, he promised the teen “that I would do whatever was in my power to keep his story alive. To keep him alive.” The resulting film is “Clouds,” titled after Sobiech’s hit song. “It was my love for Zach and it was my promise to Zach that allowed me to take the risks I took,” explains Baldoni.
One such risk was asking Zach’s parents to ship the entire contents of his bedroom to the film production. Every item that appears in Zach’s room in the film actually belonged to Sobiech. “It’s got his energy in it,” says Baldoni, “you can’t fake that.” The director took this concept as far as having actor Fin Argus, who plays him in the movie, wear Zach’s actual clothes. The red flannel shirt Argus appears in during the recording session for Clouds, is the very same one Zach wore while recording the song. Baldoni made sure the Sobiech family was an integral part of the creative process as well. It was all in an effort to ensure Zach’s spirit and essence was truthfully captured. “I wanted to make Zach proud,” Baldoni reveals, “it was a pressure I proudly bore.”
Though some viewers might think that “Clouds” is bound to be a depressing experience (the main character is dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis after all), Baldoni is quick to dismiss that notion. “We’re making the movie to give you hope,” he states, noting that one of Zach’s greatest gifts is teaching others how to live with love and intention. “This is a story about an underdog who wins. Winning is how you choose to live. And how you inspire others to choose to live. And he did that.”
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