For cinematographer Paula Huidobro, shooting “CODA” was all about enhancing the film’s natural atmosphere. The intimate film tells the story of Ruby (Emilia Jones), a high school girl who happens to be the only hearing member of her family, and it was important that the overall look of the film enhance the story, not distract from it. “We wanted the cinematography to be very natural and non-invasive,” says Huidobro in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “It was more of an organic look rather than something that would call attention to itself.” Watch the full video chat above.
The conflict at the heart of “CODA” is Ruby’s desire to be a singer while also acting as an interpreter for her family and their fishing business. Huidobro factored in that friction by framing Ruby in the middle of vast locations, representing her attachment to her hometown. “She was meant to feel that she really belonged there for generations, so the space and the landscape was a crucial part of the story,” explains Huidobro, “feeling like you belong there but also that you’re small and you don’t know who you really are or what’s going to become of you.”
Some of the more difficult scenes for Huidobro to film took place out on the family’s fishing boat. She chose to shoot on 6K with the Sony VENICE with large format lenses, in order to “capture the expanse of the ocean and nature.” A notable example is the film’s opening sequence, which scans over the sea in one unbroken shot before we meet the characters. For the moments inside the boat, the camera crew went handheld, especially considering the logistics of the shoot. “We had to be three miles away from the coast, minimum,” explains Huidobro. “So we just had to plan our shoot very well.”
Critics and audience lavished praise on “CODA” when it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, but Huidobro knew she was working on something special much earlier than that. “The first time I saw it subtitled was when I saw the whole magic of the movie,” she recalls. “A lot of the humor you wouldn’t necessarily know as you were filming it, but it was a great experience shooting the film and being in the community.”
To watch this same interview with closed captions, view the YouTube video below and click the CC button on the bottom right.
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