In a new interview with Gold Derby, Sian Heder discussed how she learned American Sign Language (ASL) and wrote CODA in it. I confess that it didn’t occur to me that such a movie would have to be scripted in this way, although it makes total sense when Ms. Heder explains it. The discussion gives another indication of the pioneering work by both cast and crew to make the film, which is available on Apple TV+.
It’s a “hugely different” process to write in ASL because it “has no written form.” Heder learned ASL in the process of making the film, but at first, “I wrote in English, and I wrote the way that I’ve written every script, where I’m talking out loud to myself and playing every part and really hearing the characters.” Then she and the film’s ASL consultants “went line by line through the script, every piece of dialogue, and we would go back and forth and discuss, and [ASL master Alexandria Wailes] would show me possible sign choices.” That process from the initial English-language script to the finished film was “really amazing,” Heder says. “People talk about that feeling as a writer where you watch your words come to life. And this was the most literal form of that.”
Check It Out: How The Script For ‘CODA’ Was Written in ASL