Interview with Johnny James Fiore, Co-Writer, Associate Producer, and stars as Clarence in REACH.
Reach is coming out in Theaters and on Digital on October 19th in time for National Bullying Prevention Month. In REACH a socially awkward band geek, Steven Turano (Garrett Clayton), divulges to an online pro-suicide support group that he plans to kill himself. Although his first attempt is unsuccessful, he is determined to find a way to escape his suffering. Steven harbors a deep resentment towards his widowed father, Steve Turano (Bojesse Christopher), and he is constantly picked-on by former childhood best friend and high school bully, Nick Perkins (Jordan Doww). However, when Clarence West (Johnny James Fiore), the new quirky kid in school, befriends him, Steven’s plans are side-tracked, and he begins to REACH out beyond his comfort zone to form stronger relationships with his father, friends (Joey Bragg, Steven Capp, Rio Mangini) and teacher, Mr. Tony (Grant Harling). More info below the Q&A..
JP: I ended up bawling at the end. But we never find out what exactly happened to Nick. Why did you decide to leave out what happened to Nick?
Johnny James Fiore: I personally like to leave things open ended. I know some people need clarity but Nick’s ending is up for them to decide, whether it be happy or sad. To show a glimmer of where Nick ended up towards the end felt like it would take away from the center storyline of Steven.
JP: Do you feel like there should be regulations of the website Steven was using that was advocating suicide?
Johnny: It’s hard to say regulate because the internet is endless and growing by the second. Kids will find a way unfortunately. I think it is more up to the parents/guardians to have awareness in this case and an honest open line of communication with their kids. One where they feel like they’re actually being listened to.
JP: The film covers some heavy topics, like bullying and contemplation of suicide, but ultimately the messages in REACH are uplifting and hopeful. What are the positive takeaways?
Johnny: The positive takeaways for me are one tiny gesture could save someone’s life. You’re not alone even though it may feel that way sometimes. We can never know what someone is going through in life, so it’s important to be aware and empathetic with everyone.
JP: What originally inspired the story and writing for this?
Johnny: Well their was a time in high school when I reached out to a kid that was a stranger to me. It just felt like he needed a simple hello. So I did. After that we became pals and as the year went on we got to know one another. By the time I graduated, he shared with me that before I reached out to him that day he wasn’t in the best place and our friendship nearly saved his life. After that it was all put into perspective for me. You never know where someone is at in life and the smallest thing could make the biggest difference.
JP: What do you think might have helped Nick and Stephen communicate with their fathers earlier and better?
Johnny: Honesty and awareness. Being open and honest is not the easiest thing for anyone. But I believe honesty is contagious and if both fathers expressed how they were really feeling as the boys were growing up they would feel they could do the same. But this is obviously easier said than done.
JP: What do you think the real solutions to bullying are?
Johnny: Whoa that’s a big one… well first thing is awareness. That’s where we can start and another big one is accountability not just for the bullies but for the bystanders as well.
JP: Thank you for the interview!! You can find the trailer and more info below: