Disney+’s CLOUDS Based on True, Faith-Filled Story
By Jessilyn Lancaster
Zach Sobiech chose to make each moment of his life matter until his untimely death of cancer. His legacy is the story behind CLOUDS on Disney+, and the true story behind the movie is filled with faith and hope.
CLOUDS is based on the book “Fly a Little Higher,” by Laura Sobiech, Zach’s mother.
“Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever.”
This is what Laura Sobiech prayed when she found out her seventeen-year-old son had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her son to God’s will.
At that point, Zach Sobiech was just another teenager battling cancer. When his mother told him to think about writing good-bye letters to family and friends, he decided instead to write songs. One of them, “Clouds,” captured hearts and changed not one life but millions, making him an international sensation.
But Zach’s story is not just about music. It’s a testament to what can happen when you live as if each day might be your last. It’s a story about the human spirit. It’s about how God used a dying boy from a small town in Minnesota to touch the hearts of millions—including top executives in the music industry, major music artists, news anchors, talk show hosts, actors, priests and pastors, and school children across the globe.
Zach once said, “I want to be known as the kid who went down fighting, and didn’t really lose.” Fly a Little Higher is about how God used Zach to do something big.
How Zach let his faith define him left a major impact on the actors and actresses who brought his story to the screen.
“The answer that comes to mind is Zach’s resounding phrase, ‘You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living,’ and of course that’s something I’ve internalized,” said Fin Argus, who portrays Zach.
“After having spent three months just in Zach’s mind and trying to figure out exactly what he was feeling when he was going through that, it helped me to have a really positive perspective on loss and grief, which has become an invaluable tool for me, just as a person,” Argus continued.
“And it makes me see the world with wonder. I go out and I listen to the birds tweeting and I think, wow, it’s such a beautiful day. I need to get in focus to those little things. And that’s what Zach was all about, the little things. Holding a door open for someone, smiling at a stranger, or giving your mom a hug when she doesn’t expect it, just those little things. It makes all the difference. Those little gestures help people to feel loved, and feel sane, and that type of stuff is so important, especially right now. So I feel so glad that I got to learn that lesson over the course of last year. It’s been super helpful through such a trying year of our own this year,” Argus said.
Tom Everett Scott, who plays Zach’s father Rob, emphasized how the Sobiech family celebrated the value of life.
“The big takeaway from Zach’s story, from Zach himself, is just to appreciate your life,” Scott said. “Appreciate it as it’s happening, and I think I interpreted that in my own life as grab the people I love, and pull them close, and try to just soak it all in.”
Scott said he read “Fly a Little Higher” on a flight from Montreal to Los Angeles and openly sobbed on the plane, touched by the Sobieches’ story.
“There were a lot of things that she said in that book and told about that story, what they went through and what other people did for them that also reaffirmed how I think people can be in this day and age. We’re definitely up against what can people do for others and how important that is, and people came to their house and brought them food while they were going through this tragedy. It was just a lot of stuff like that, that was just coming together, that was just making me realize how important that is to not only to understand how great your life is and to soak it all up, but to be there for other people, I think is important.”
Director Justin Baldoni was also deeply affected by Zach’s outlook on life and was inspired to make decisions in his own life that reflect biblical virtues.
“Every day we have a choice. We can choose love. We can choose joy. We can choose happiness. And that stuff doesn’t have to be cheesy. It can be beautiful, and it can be inspiring, because we need more of it right now.”
CLOUDS debuts on Disney+ on Oct. 16. Click here to read the full review.