Updated: May 3
It all began in the summer of 2019. I had just worked a day on the movie I Care A Lot and had gotten a call about being B Camera Op on CODA. I had worked with the UPM before. The script sounded great and I needed the work.
Gifted with a voice that her parents can’t hear, seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), is the sole hearing member of a deaf family—a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.
My Role on CODA
I was the B Camera Operator on CODA. We had two camera operators, myself and Alec Jarnigan. We both shot just about every setup of the movie. It was great to work with the amazing camera team on CODA.
My Stories from the set
We spent a good part of a week out on the open ocean for the boat scenes. We would go out early in the morning and spend all day out there filming. The first morning out while doing crane shots from boat to boat we saw whales breaching the surface quite a few times.
The catch of fish on the boat that you see throughout the whole movie is the same catch of fish. We were only allowed to catch one net to use for props in the film. By the end of the week filming with the fish they smelled pretty rank. In the scene where Troy was hooking fish and sorting them, one of the giant monk fish exploded when hooks and splash myself and the camera with guts!
The scene on the back of the pickup truck in which Ruby's father try's to understand Ruby's singing didn't leave a dry eye on the crew. That was one of the scenes where we as the crew felt that we were filming something special. There was many other scenes throughout the movie that were very moving to film. The scene with Ruby and her mother talking about Ruby's birth, the scene where she sings and signs her audition for Berkley School of Music. All these scenes brought out the feels.
We had so many ear worms on the set of CODA. The biggest one was Clouds by Joni Mitchell. Ruby sings this song in here try out for Berkley and we spent the better part of 2 days listening to her sing it over and over. With a lot of the other songs in the movie it was the same way.