Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Funny Business

15/08/2022

In Season 1 of the HBO Max original series Hacks, legendary but no longer irreplaceable Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and canceled television writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) reluctantly agreed to work together in a last-ditch bid to resuscitate their careers. Despite their initial misgivings, their collaboration proved a success, and in Season 2 they embark on a cross-country trek to workshop new material for Deborah's act and to continue workshopping their personal lives.

Created by Jen Statsky, Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello, Hacks has been photographed from the beginning by cinematographer Adam Bricker, whose work on the show has garnered two Primetime Emmy nominations (for the Season 1 episode Primm and the Season 2 episode The Click ) and an ASC Award nomination (for the Season 1 episode There Is No Line ). Bricker turned to Panavision Hollywood for his camera and lens package, opting for Panavision's Millennium DXL2 on Season 1 and Panavised Red V-Raptors on Season 2, with modified Primo 70 optics in front of the cameras for both seasons. The cinematographer recently spoke with Panavision about his approach to shooting the series' 18 episodes to date.

Panavision: How did you come to be involved in Hacks? What drew you to the project?

Adam Bricker: From the first page of the pilot, I could tell Hacks was operating on another level. It opens with a fast-paced, energetic oner that introduces us to the glamorous Las Vegas world of Deborah Vance, but soon pivots to the quieter, lonelier side of her fame. It's rare to find a half-hour comedy so rich with character-motivated visual storytelling, so I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to meet with Jen, Paul, and Lucia. We shared a similar sensibility from the get-go, and I was honored when they brought me on board.

Lucia Aniello has also directed 11 of the 18 episodes to date, including the pilot. How would you define the look that the two of you sought to create with Season 1?

Bricker: In that first meeting, we all agreed that comedies can be shot cinematically; they don't need to be bright or adhere to a certain look to emphasize a joke. If something is funny, it's funny. We were interested in using the cinematography to underscore our characters' emotional journeys and enhance the storytelling wherever we could.

Lucia's foundational visual references were a reflection of that ethos. She recommended I watch Judy, shot by Ole Bratt Birkeland, BSC, a film in which the lighting beautifully reflects the character's emotional state, and Bergman's Persona, for compositional inspiration. Lucia also wanted the look of Deborah's life in Vegas to have a nostalgic quality, and we both loved Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra, which became another important touchstone. Building off those films, I put together a look-book that helped establish our visual language and that we could refer to throughout the shoot.

Season 2 takes the show on the road. Did the introduction of new environments lead to any particular evolutions in the look or your approach to shooting the series?

Bricker: Whereas Season 1 was about the grandiosity and glitz of Vegas, Season 2 was about Deborah getting back to her roots, taking us into the dive bars and small comedy clubs where she workshops her new material and, of course, the tour bus that is her chariot.

Shooting in the tight confines of the tour bus presented a fun creative challenge. First, we downsized our camera body to a Red V-Raptor to save space. We were actually the first major production to shoot on the Raptor, and Panavision machined a suite of custom accessories to accompany it, which is something I've always loved about Panavision they don't just buy things, they build them.

Then our art department, led by production designer Alec Contestabile, built a replica of the tour bus interior on our stages at Universal. I was looking for ways that we could realistically convey motion on this stationary set. I rode around on tour buses during prep, photographing the interiors as a light study. Chief lighting technician Daniel McNutt and key grip Randy Garcia were able to use those findings to program and rig concert movers to mimic the natural bounce and play of sunlight through a vehicle speeding down the interstate.

Lucia, Paul and Jen also made key strategic choices which helped add so much depth, texture, and atmosphere to our visuals. Though we mostly shot in and around Los Angeles, we took Jean, Hannah and a skeleton crew to the Grand Canyon to shoot at sunrise for a pivotal scene. We then sent second-unit DP Charlie Hoosier Panian on a road trip to film the actual tour bus as it drove through some iconic American landscapes, and his gorgeous frames made it feel like that bus was all over America, because, in a way, it was. In combination with every department's exceptional work, all of our visuals reinforced the sense of perpetual motion our characters find themselves in this season, both literally and emotionally.

How did you first start working with Panavision, and what brought you to Panavision for Hacks?

Bricker: I first connected with [marketing executive] Rik DeLisle at Panavision Hollywood when I was embarking on the indie feature Happily. It was a passion project with big ambitions and a very limited budget, but Panavision could not have been more supportive of what we were trying to achieve in the film.

Shortly thereafter I found myself back at Panavision for the second season of the show Sorry for Your Loss, which I was inheriting from DP Xavier Grobet, ASC, AMC. He shot the first season on a DXL2 and had worked with Guy McVicker [who now serves as technical marketing manager at Panavision Woodland Hills] to customize a lens package, which set the look.

I loved meeting Guy he is a true wea
LINK: https://www.panavision.com/highlights/highlights-detail/funny-business...
See more stories from panavision

More from Panavision France

30/11/2022

Farming the Imagination

My career has spanned many genres, a journey I could have never predicted, says cinematographer Simon Reay. With credits that run the gamut from the series Man...

30/11/2022

Love on the Margins

Starring Taylor Russell as Maren and Timoth e Chalamet as Lee, director Luca Guadagnino's feature Bones and All is a film about cannibal lovers, cinematog...

15/11/2022

A Collaboration With Panavision: Anastas Michos, ASC, GSC

Anastas Michos, ASC, GSC's credits as a cinematographer include the features Man on the Moon, Keeping the Faith, Mona Lisa Smile, Freedomland, Perfect Stran...

11/11/2022

The Making of The School for Good and Evil

Based on the book by Soman Chainani, the Netflix feature The School for Good and Evil depicts an epic battle as seen through the eyes of best friends Agatha (So...

09/11/2022

The Making of Sonata

Written and directed by Bartosz Blaschke, the Polish feature Sonata is inspired by the true story of a deaf boy misdiagnosed with autism who discovers a passion...

09/11/2022

Incredible Journey

Writer-director Olivier Dahan's feature Simone, le voyage du si cle (known in English as Simone: Woman of the Century) traces the life story of Simone Veil,...

06/11/2022

A Relationship to Remember

Introduced in 2021, the FilmLight Colour Awards celebrate the art of color grading as practiced around the globe. This year's nominees in the Theatrical Fea...

24/10/2022

A Love Like This

A comedy particular to modern times, the feature I Love My Dad is equal parts true-life catfish story and popcorn comedy. The movie was written and directed by...

24/10/2022

Un Mystery Crew Diferente

Created by Saturday Night Live alums Fred Armisen and Julio Torres along with fellow comedian Ana Fabrega, the Spanish-language comedy series Los Espookys foll...

11/10/2022

Call and Response

Known for photographing cult-classic television such as Felicity and Monk, Marshall Adams, ASC knows how to identify and respond to a story that subverts ex...

03/10/2022

Guiding Principles

Based on James Lee Burke's short story Winter Light, the feature God's Country stars Thandiwe Newton as Sandra, a college professor whose encounter with...

23/09/2022

A Look Beyond Horror

When cinematographer Zach Kuperstein got the job to shoot writer-director Zach Cregger's horror feature Barbarian, one of the first things he did was reach ...

21/09/2022

In Lieu of Lumon

From the eerie calm of Lynne Cohen photographs to the is it safe aesthetic of Marathon Man, cinematographer Jessica Lee Gagn has underscored her own creative...

19/09/2022

A New Arena

Only a veteran cinematographer such as Donald A. Morgan, ASC could take chisel and hammer and recontour the shape of sitcoms. The eye behind the camera of class...

19/09/2022

Controlled Chaos in the Kitchen

Cinematographer Andrew Wehde spent more than a decade shooting commercials for Michelin-star restaurants before he ventured into the frenetic kitchen of The Ori...

07/09/2022

90-Second Portrait

For the KCB Bank Kenya commercial Go Ahead, director Blake Farber and cinematographer Nicholas Bluff collaborated to craft a portrait of the vibrant people, p...

07/09/2022

Desire for Cinema

The coming-of-age drama L' t ternit (released in the U.S. as Our Eternal Summer) marked the continuation of the collaboration between writer-director mi...

07/09/2022

Mystery Down Under

The Australian series Mystery Road: Origin adds to the popular mythology established in the franchise's preceding features and television seasons. The detec...

06/09/2022

Authenticity and Optimism

After a grim and gritty fourth season, the Showtime series The Chi returned to its more optimistic roots for Season 5, changing not only the tone of its stories...

30/08/2022

Multi-Cam Matchmaking

Continuing the legacy of the fan-favorite CBS series How I Met Your Mother, the Hulu original How I Met Your Father lends a new perspective for a new generation...

29/08/2022

The Wheres and Whys and Whos

Known for his work on movies such as 300, Watchmen, Super 8 and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Larry Fong, ASC has brought his magical talents to bear for ...

26/08/2022

Life, Love and Laughter

The second season of the Chuck Lorre CBS sitcom B Positive finds the kismet-connected duo Gina (Annaleigh Ashford) and Drew (Thomas Middleditch) diving deeper ...

18/08/2022

Villainy Never Looked So Good

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Season 1 of the Marvel Studios series Loki finds the titular God of Mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) in the custod...

15/08/2022

Funny Business

In Season 1 of the HBO Max original series Hacks, legendary but no longer irreplaceable Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and canceled television ...

12/08/2022

In Conversation: Winning Time

The HBO original series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty re-creates the Los Angeles Lakers' historic climb to prominence over the rest of the NB...

03/08/2022

The Old, the New and the Gritty

The FX original series The Old Man stars Jeff Bridges as the eponymous lead, former CIA operative Dan Chase, whose off-the-grid existence is rudely interrupted ...

20/07/2022

The Natural World

Based on the best-selling mystery novel of the same name, the feature Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young woman who grew...

13/07/2022

Deal With a Devil

Inspired by real events, the Apple TV+ limited series Black Bird tells the story of Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton), who, in exchange for early release from his 10-...

29/06/2022

Tribute to the King

It was June 2019 when director Baz Luhrmann first approached cinematographer Mandy Walker, ACS, ASC about collaborating on the new biopic Elvis. I was extremel...

28/06/2022

Light Iron solidifies management team with 2 key hires

LOS ANGELES (June 28, 2022) Light Iron, an industry leader in providing innovative post-production creative services and part of Panavision's end-to-end o...

21/06/2022

Different Worlds

After years of shooting television dramas like Snowfall and Empire, cinematographer Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC longed for a project that explored the mysterious a...

09/06/2022

Championship Caliber

The give-and-go between cinematographers Todd Banhazl and Mihai Malaimare Jr. on the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty has been as impress...

08/06/2022

Outpost RC enables remote near-set dailies for a trio of productions

Since its founding in 2009, Light Iron has been reimagining post-production workflows. Over the past two years, as the pandemic has driven productions to embrac...

08/06/2022

A Collaboration With Panavision: Markus Frderer, ASC, BVK

Always try to do something that you find visually interesting, and use it as an opportunity to do something new, encourages Markus F rderer, ASC, BVK. In this v...

08/06/2022

A Conversation With Producer Daniel Lupi

Producer Daniel Lupi's credits include the features Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln, Ready Player One and West Side Story with director Steven Spielberg; Hard ...

31/05/2022

The Making of Red Notice

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, the Netflix feature Red Notice stars Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds in a globe-trotting caper that blends come...

31/05/2022

Extended Family

On Sept. 20, 2016, This Is Us premiered on NBC, introducing viewers to the cross-generational story of the Pearson family. Over the course of six seasons and a ...

24/05/2022

Colorful Combination of Characters

The latest installment into the family friendly Cheaper by the Dozen franchise depicts how a blended multiracial family can grow together despite the challenges...

19/05/2022

The Making of 12 Mighty Orphans

For director Ty Roberts Depression-era feature 12 Mighty Orphans, cinematographer David McFarland worked with Panavision to assemble an eclectic mix of vintage ...

19/05/2022

The Making of The Last Duel & House of Gucci

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC and director Ridley Scott first partnered on the 2012 feature Prometheus. Since then, they've reteamed for such projects...

18/05/2022

The Legacy Continues

As one of Amazon Prime's earliest hits, Bosch left a legion of watchers wanting more after its Season 7 finale. Bosch fans can rest assured knowing that the...

17/05/2022

Lighting Spotlight: Cinematographer Kit Fraser

I am certain I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Panalux's help and support. Director of Photography Kit Fraser has been a loyal Panalu...

17/05/2022

Lighting Spotlight: Gaffer Andrew Taylor

It's like they are always on standby! Panalux's response is second to none. Gaffer Andrew Tala Taylor has built a solid working relationship with the...

17/05/2022

The Artistry of Anamorphic

Dan Sasaki, Panavision's senior vice president of optical engineering, touches on recent advancements in digital imagers as well as the continued popularity...

17/05/2022

The Five Pillars of Anamorphic - Magnification and Perspective

As Panavision senior vice president of optical engineering Dan Sasaki explains, magnification and perspective collectively make for a very strong defining poin...

17/05/2022

The Five Pillars of Anamorphic - Disproportionate Breathing

Panavision senior vice president of optical engineering Dan Sasaki explores the distinct way that anamorphic lenses breathe as their focus is adjusted, a qualit...

17/05/2022

The Five Pillars of Anamorphic - Flare

Dan Sasaki, Panavision's senior vice president of optical engineering, shines a light on the unique flare characteristics of various series of Panavision an...

17/05/2022

The Five Pillars of Anamorphic - Bokeh

The combination of an anamorphic lens' powered and non-powered axes lends an elliptical shape to out-of-focus elements within the image, explains Panavision...

17/05/2022

The Five Pillars of Anamorphic - Organic Focus Roll-Off

Panavision senior vice president of optical engineering Dan Sasaki discusses how the inherent softness in anamorphic optics takes the edge off of sharp digital ...

17/05/2022

The Aesthetics of Anamorphic in Film and Digital

With examples from the features Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Suicide Squad, Chef, The Equalizer, and Spectre as well as the...