‘CODA’: Oscar nominees Sian Heder, Troy Kotsur and Patrick Wachsberger reveal what went on behind the scenes — the big surprises, scrappy time crunch and dropping F bombs [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“The way that we made the film was perfect,” asserts “CODA” director Sian Heder despite acknowledging that the production was “incredibly hard and it was scrappy and we didn’t have enough time or enough days.” She is joined by producer Patrick Wachsberger and supporting actor (and recent SAG Award winner) Troy Kotsur at the Q&A roundtable panel “Gold Derby Presents ‘The Making of “CODA'” featuring the film’s Oscar nominees.

“I had absolute freedom as a filmmaker, so I can own it completely, and Patrick was such a support in that,” she adds. “I remember he watched my director’s cut and got on the phone with me and he said ‘okay, great. We’re done.’ And I said, ‘Nothing? You don’t have any notes?’ And he’s like, ‘No, I love it. I love what you did.’ That never happens. It never happens! You always have so much meddling and there’s always people looking over your shoulder and giving you notes and pushing you here or there.”

Watch our lively chat above as the Academy Awards contenders talk at length about their recent awards success, the making of the film, behind the scenes tidbits and some key scenes and goosebump moments from the critically acclaimed Apple Original Film.

“CODA” stars Emila Jones as Ruby, a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) who is the only hearing member of her family. Kotsur and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin (“Children of a Lesser God”) play her deaf parents Troy and Jackie Rossi, with Daniel Durant co-starring as her deaf brother Leo. Ruby works with her family and their fishing business while also yearning to pursue her dreams of going to college and becoming a singer, after connecting with her choir mate Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and being mentored by her demanding singing teacher Bernardo (Eugenio Derbez).

The poignant musical drama has been a hit with critics and audiences since its debut at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a staggering four prizes: the Grand Jury and Audience Awards, plus directing kudos for Heder and a Special Jury Prize for its ensemble cast.

While Heder adapted her screenplay from elements of the original 2014 French dramedy “La Famille Bélier,” the writer/director wanted to explore deaf culture in a more authentic way. “I love the idea of this CODA character who lives between the hearing world and the deaf world, and has to navigate both, but feels kind of a part of neither,” she explains. “That was a very interesting tension and I was struck that I had never seen a deaf family on screen before just sitting around a dinner table chatting. Unfortunately in the French film, those actors, the parents, were played by hearing actors. So there wasn’t the opportunity to use ASL in the way that really could be used on screen and to explore the deaf experience and deaf culture in the way that it could be explored with authentically deaf actors.”

SEE 2022 Oscar nominations: Full list of nominees in all 23 categories

“When Troy talks about portrayals of deaf characters it’s like, not only is it feeling sorry for the deaf character, but also there’s an earnestness to those characters sometimes,” Heder explains. “I think it was important when Troy and I were talking that Frank Rossi is just as dirty and crass as all these other fishermen out there, we’re dropping F bombs, totally un-PC and saying whatever they want,” she declares. “The elements, you know, his identity as a fisherman from Gloucester, Massachusetts is just as much a part of his identity as being deaf or a deaf culture. It’s like, this is a very specific family. And we weren’t trying to tell a story about all of the deaf community. We were just trying to tell this very specific story about this individual family and make them feel as real as possible.”

“If I may chime in,” Kotsur says, “How often do you see vulgar sign language in a film and how often do you see it in multiple scenes? I was so excited to share that aspect of deaf culture with your world, because it’s still intelligent humor, too, and intelligent humor that many hearing people I’ve never even thought that’s right.”

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