Dialogue as action, whatever the language: ‘CODA’

Much of the dialogue within CODA is spoken through sign language and not verbally. Sign language is based on feeling and physical movement. The most poignant moment comes when Ruby and her father are sitting on the tailgate of the family truck after the school concert. Frank asks Ruby to sing. Frank’s ‘dialogue’ is sign language and his ‘listening’ to Ruby sing is feeling, also with his hands touching her neck to feel her voice. The spoken dialogue in the scene are the song lyrics which carry the emotional subtext about Ruby’s love for her family. The blend of verbal and signed dialogue is unique to the story. It comes directly from the scenes and the characters.



Heder, Sian. 2021. CODA [Film]

The Screenwriter’s Notebook

Storytelling for me is about taking something fundamentally true about the human condition and exploring it through the imagination. Stories allow us to transcend time and place, shape our perspective on what it means to be human. When you enter a story, something magical happens, and for me entering a story on screen is where the greatest magic of all happens.