Sundance: ‘CODA’ Costume Designer Stress Authenticity While Styling for the Deaf Community

5:17 PM PST 1/28/2021


Emily hilton

Veteran costume designer Brenda Abandandolo reflects on the communication and non-verbal story following her experience working in director Cian Herder’s ‘CODA, Child of Deaf Adults’.

“This is America,” said costume designer Brenda Abandandolo, her most recent project being CODA, child of deaf adults, Which will premiere at Sundance on January 28. The film largely features the deaf and tells the story of Ruby, the only hearing member of her family, who is torn between her dreams and her family’s business. “This is an American family; They are no different from any other. “

Abbandandolo was the first to work together CODA Writer and director, Seer Herder, on Hyder’s debut, TallulahIn 2015 and since has continued to cooperate with the farmer.

“I love Cyan, so it wasn’t hard to think I was going to work with him [CODA], Recalls Abbandandolo. “Then, when I read the script, it was a different script and especially doing films of today’s climate that are more inclusive about different types of families in America … I really like having someone Awarded for doing the work that was making the film about that. A different subject

This project Abandandolo was working with hearing impaired actors for the first time, as well as working with interpreters for the first time. “These artists were incredible,” she says, and I really started picking up sign language a bit. I wish I could sign a bit more, but they were very happy to be there and they were very open to working with me and they were very generous in sharing their experiences … and the interpreters of the bus crew so much Large parts became, perhaps the most important part of the crew. They became your channels of communication until we learn to read each other. “

The NYU Tisch graduate began his career to assist costume designers for the stage in New York before venturing into the film world. He has an Oscar nominee to his credit The disaster artist And An American pickle, Starring Seth Rogen.

“We wanted this film to feel truly authentic,” Abandandolo says of her and Herder’s stylistic choice. “[The process] Was so collaborative. With any meaning, once one emotion is gone, all the others are amplified, so that some of the vowels we use are played like … I found that sometimes bright colors for deaf people There can be exhaustion for the eyes as that feeling increases, so we were working with colors that seemed emotionally correct, practically for the film but also for the deaf community and for the actors . “

Another consideration is the movement required to sign, and Abbandandolo had to “ensure [actors] The clothes were comfortable and the clothes were not obstructing their arms so that they could sign throughout the film. I felt that we are really learning about communication, learning about each other, and I’m really helping them to communicate the story visually. “

Clothing is one of the many ways that humans communicate non-verbally, Abbandandolo says. She says, “This is our way of presenting ourselves.” “Color has volume, it has a pitch. We all wanted [the costumes] Must be really realistic and you are working with the environment and their work and their socioeconomic class so all factors are at play. There are some moments where Ruby gets her moment and you want her to stand out loud, so the color of her clothes might be a little brighter. Or there are moments where she is in her work environment, she is a little bit away from the rest of the world, so she calms down a bit, her vocals a little calm and everything becomes a bit muted. “

Communication, and its many layers, is a central theme of the film and one of Abandandolo’s biggest takeaways from his experience working on the project. “There are a lot of elements to this film,” she says, “the way music communicates to us the way movement does. There are different types of languages, different types of colors, different types of visual language. Is, language of music, artistic language, oral language. Our world is so layered and so dimensional, and it’s so clear in this film. This is what life looks like. “

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