Sian Heder discusses CODA

Director Siân Heder discusses CODA

May 3, 2022 A DGA Membership Screening Q&A in Los Angeles

A young woman with a gift for singing finds herself torn between family duty and pursuing her dreams in Director Siân Heder’s drama, CODA.

Heder’s film tells the story of Ruby, a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) who is the only hearing person in her family and serves as their interpreter. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her deaf parents and brother.

On May 3, after a special DGA membership screening in Los Angeles, Heder discussed the film during a Q&A moderated by Director Nia DaCosta (Candyman).

During the conversation, Heder, who wanted to make accessible to the deaf audience, shared the challenges of directing in two languages, English and American Sign Language (ASL).

“I had to do so much research and because I knew a good portion of the film I wanted to have in ASL,” said Heder. “I had never blocked in ASL. So [I was wondering] how do I shoot this so that hands are in frame but there's still action in the frame? You can't move the camera as much because you want to catch all the signing and that's distracting from the signing. But I wanted to keep it alive. So how am I creating blocking that's going to do that? I felt new to it. It was almost like everything I knew about how you block a scene how you worked with actors was just a real process of discovery.”

Heder’s other directorial credits include the feature film, Tallulah; and episodes of The Path, GLOW, Orange Is the New Black, Queen Fur and Little America. She has been a DGA member since 2016.

You can listen to a podcast of Heder's September 2021 Q&A by clicking the podcast episode embedded below. You can find more DGA podcast episodes here.


Q&A photos by Elisa Haber – Print courtesy of APPLE

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