Made a Promise to Zach Sobiech Before He Passed Away: Justin Baldoni on Telling the Singer's Story with 'Clouds'
Actor Justin Baldoni, who made his directorial debut in 2019 with Five Feet Apart, is back with his second feature film entitled Clouds. The film is a biopic of American singer-songwriter Zach Sobiech, whose single Clouds became one of the biggest hits of 2013 shortly before he passed away due to Ostepsarcoma.
Baldoni had first met Zach, when he appeared in his documentary My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech, and in December 2018 had announced that he would be telling his inspiring story through a feature film. The Jane the Virgin actor had also become well acquainted with the Sobiech family and the film is also based on Zach's mother Laura Sobiech's book Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way.
At a recent press-conference, Baldoni talked about wanting to make the film for over six years now. "The genesis of Clouds began when I found him while I was shooting My Last Days season 1, seven years ago. Before I left that documentary, we started talking about how 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 face-timing him just before he passed away and I made a promise to him that I would do whatever I could to further his story about his music and his message and obviously his fund, the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.
"Shortly after that his mom wrote the book, Lauren took her pain and turned it into art and it was really therapeutic for her. That's when I reached out and asked, 'hey what do you think about taking this to the next level?' So that was about six years ago."
22 year-old actor Fin Argus, who essays Zach's character in the film, said that he had first heard about the singer in 2013 when the song had hit number 1 on charts. He said that he had felt a special connection with Zach as one of his family members had also battled cancer throughout his childhood.
"When we went to the audition and we got the breakdown of the script, it was this weird jolt in the resurrection of my memories and I remembered the song and when I played the song on YouTube to learn for the audition, it came back to me instantly," Fin explained.
Baldoni says that he is on a journey to tell more inspiring stories. "I'm on a drive artistically to be sincere and to tell stories that touch the human heart. At the end of the day, there is so much darkness in the world. We are bombarded by so much everyday, on our phones, the news and social media. I just want to reach out and remind people of the goodness that exists in the world and the potential each of us have. My first two films have been inspired by real people. Five Feet apart was inspired by Claire Wineland (activist) and Clouds is about Zach."
He added, "And the thing about Zach is, he was the best of us. Each one in this Zoom (call) played people that represented the best of what it looked like to be human. And there are so many good examples of that. So I'm on a search to tell stories that inspire us and make us think about what's possible and how to make positive choices."
Baldoni also says that he hopes the film becomes a silver lining during these trying times. "As Zach said, you don't have to find you're dying to start living. Every day we have a choice, we can choose love, joy and happiness and that stuff doesn't have to be cheesy. It can be easy, beautiful and inspiring. I'm just so inspired and grateful for the cast and everyone who made this film to honour Zach. I hope it touches people's hearts and gives them hope in such a wild time," he concluded.
Clouds also stars Sabrina Carpenter, Madison Iseman, Neve Campbell and Tom Everett Scott in pivotal roles. It will be streaming on Disney+ Hotstar Premium from October 16, 2020.