MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By now, you’ve probably heard the song “Clouds” by Lakeland teen Zach Sobiech. It caught the world’s attention in 2012.
Now his mom’s book based on how he lived during his terminal cancer diagnosis has been made into a movie that will debut on Disney+ Oct. 16. The film features Zach’s relationships with his friends and then girlfriend. WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle spoke with Zach’s real friends and family to get their take on a movie about their lives, and how Zach continues to inspire hope.
The song “Clouds” is how many came to know Zach Sobiech. The teenager wrote and performed the catchy tune and who lived while he was dying.
While his life has been made into a movie for all to see, it’s his friends and family that knew Zach best.
“’Clouds’ is a song that at first sounds light and poppy and when you listen to the words, like this kid was like going through something,” friend Sammy Brown said.
Doctors diagnosed Zach with a terminal cancer called Osteosarcoma. He died in 2013 at age 18. But it’s how he lived that inspired hope in others.
“Right when I met him I think I knew he would have a big impact on my life. I had no idea what it would look like or what would happen,” then-girlfriend Amy Adamle said.
Amy and Zach’s relationship is a focus of the film.
“The way that they love each other in the movie, I think is a nice kind of showing of how we just cared for each other so much in such a short time,” Adamle said.
She says while they had tough, deep conversations, they also acted like their age and had fun.
Sammy Brown and Zach were best friends and made music together. Many of their originals are in the film.
“Those were our first songs we ever wrote together and now they’re in a movie, which is absurd. What makes them, at least, so special to me is how not self-conscious we were when were writing them,” Brown said.
She shares part of what made Zach special is he made people feel included.
“I think that really shines in the movie. Always making people feel he had enough time for them even though he had limited time,” Brown said.
“I think Fin did an amazing job of playing Zach,” mom Laura Sobiech said.
Laura said the family shipped Zach’s crutches and clothes, and the actor playing Zach wears them in “Clouds.” The Sobiech family was on set for some of the filming.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve sobbed in the arms of a stranger because I was feeling what it was like to have Zach in the room again, and I really miss it,” Sobiech said.
Laura says to remember the movie is based on her book. Some events are pulled together or enhanced as part of movie magic. But the essence of their lives and the story is there.
And what’s real is how Zach made people feel, and the impact his life continues to have.
“Zach was, I love him so much. He was just like the biggest goofball and just the sweetest guy. He gave great hugs,” friend Mitch Kluesner said.
Kluesner is a researcher at the University of Minnesota, working on a cure for Osteosarcoma. It’s research enabled by work Zach started that continues with the Children’s Cancer Research Fund in his name.
“Seeing increasingly how this has encompassed in so many aspects, it’s not just a one-note story,” Kluesner said.
And so these loved ones hope audiences will truly see Zach in “Clouds.”
“I hope people will see their own hearts and their own loss in this and feel comforted by it,” Brown said.
“I want our story to be just that little spark of hope,” Laura Sobiech said.
A life and legacy that lives on.
“I wish we could experience this with him and just be like look at what you did,” Adamle said.
Clouds will be available to stream on Disney-plus Friday, Oct. 16. You must subscribe to the channel to be able to see the movie. It’s $6.99 per month and the only place the film will be available.
The film is also a way to raise awareness for Zach’s Movement, raising money for Osteosarcoma through the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.