In honor of National Stuttering Awareness Week, Cody Packer has released a stuttering PSA today, and we are so excited to share it! Cody is a filmmaker from New Zealand currently living in Los Angeles, and a person who stutters. Please enjoy his film, “First Day”, and the following interview about his project.
Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to make this film. Is it based on any of your personal experiences?
I am a proud person that stutters from New Zealand. I write and direct films and commercials for a living and absolutely love movies. My life goal is to make a feature film that captures the authentic complexities of the stuttering experience in a whole-hearted and authentic way. So, I thought what better way to start than to dive into a personal story to celebrate National Stuttering Awareness Week.
This piece is based on the fear and dread I used to feel everyday going to school knowing I would be asked to say my name, or read aloud in class. For the sake of the video, I took my experiences and translated it to a young girls first day at school. I wanted to capture the anxiety and anticipation building right from the moment you would wake up, to counting how many people there were until it was your turn to speak, to that slow motion moment suspended in time when you stood up and knew you were going to get laughed at for just trying to speak the best you could. While trying to be realistic, it was also very important to promote a positive message with this PSA to show how such a small gesture can go a long way.
I wanted this video to set an example and teach love and acceptance for people who stutter, just the way they are. I want it to inspire people who stutter to let their voice be heard, in spite of what others say, because I think what they have to say is just as important as anyone else, even though I know that isn’t sometimes reflected to us in the school environment. If I’m being honest, my love and admiration for the many people I have encountered in our community inspired me to make this video. All of the amazing spirits and kind hearts have helped me find my best self and given me the courage to tell this story because I was made to feel important. So I want to pass that on.
How do you think your video/commercial can help spread awareness, and what do you want the public to understand about stuttering?
It is National Stuttering Week and first and foremost I think we are here as community to celebrate ourselves and our beautiful voices, because we are worth it! I think it is a great time to reflect on what we love about ourselves and what intentions we want to take into our relationship we have with stuttering in the next year. I made this PSA so people who stutter can see themselves on the screen and know they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. We have a unique gift and a family community that I think is worth yelling from the rooftops about.
My dream beyond the community is that this can hopefully educate the general public and perhaps give them an understanding of what it might be like to live with a stutter. I really wanted to authentically highlight the psychological, emotional and physical aspects that can encompass the stuttering experience, which I feel has been poorly represented in mainstream media in the past, where stuttering has mostly been utilized for comedic purposes. I want this video to help create more of an awareness and to normalize the subject of stuttering so we can talk about it openly and people can learn to love and accept people as they are in schools and society.
Learn more about Cody at his website, or follow @codymathiesonpacker on Instagram.
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.