‘Hacks’: How the Story of Deborah and Ava’s Relationship Was Told with the Camera

‘Hacks’: How the Story of Deborah and Ava’s Relationship Was Told with the Camera
Right from its opening shot — a 90-second oner (really multiple shots stitched together) that follows comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) from behind as she walks backstage after finishing her Vegas stand-up routine — “Hacks” announces its filmmaking intentions. As the audience watches Deborah’s interactions and the way she moves through her surroundings, character is being defined by the use of the camera even before we see its star’s face.

When “Hacks” co-creator Lucia Aniello, who directed six of the 10 episodes in Season 1 (including the first three), was on the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast, she discussed how that opening shot served the purpose of establishing the myth of the fictional legendary comedian, but also establishing this was a half-hour series that had more than jokes on its mind.

“We made sure the camera felt, especially in the pilot, to have shots that mirrored what we wanted the audience to feel, especially for Deborah,
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