'The Hills': Was It Real or Fake? Creators Take Sides 10 Years Later

PHOTO: Whitney Port, Lauren Conrad and Frankie Delgado are seen during the filming of MTVs "The Hills" at Project Beach House in Malibu, Calif., Aug. 14, 2008.PlayChris Polk/Getty Images
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It's the question still on everyone's minds 10 years after "The Hills" premiered. Was it real or fake?

The reality series, set in picturesque Los Angeles, centered on the lives of recent high school graduates Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port and their really good-looking friends.

Still, it kept viewers questioning whether the storylines were real, thanks to the unconventional way the reality show was shot -- without confessionals or interviews.

And it didn't help that "The Hills," a spin-off of "Laguna Beach," ended with Kristin Cavallari and Brody Jenner hugging goodbye in front of the iconic Hollywood sign ... or so we thought. Then the sign got carried away by production assistants and we saw Jenner standing there on the Paramount Studios lot.

Creator Adam DiVello takes credit for the ending.

"We really wanted to shock the audience but at the same time, give a little wink and nod to the fact that people have been speculating whether this show was real or not," he told ABC News.

No one would know if the series, which ran for six seasons on MTV, was real or fake except for its creators. So ABC News asked them to weigh in 10 years after their show premiered.

PHOTO: The Hills director Jason Sands with star Lauren Conrad in the Teen Vogue closet. Courtesy Jason Sands
"The Hills" director Jason Sands with star Lauren Conrad in the Teen Vogue closet.

Adam DiVello, Creator and Executive Producer
"All of the situations were real situations. If it was scripted, I would've written even better storylines. We were doing a lot of episodes about Audrina and [her on-again, off-again boyfriend] Justin Bobby ... tons of repeated storylines. But you can't make up some of the things that have happened to them."

Hisham Abed, Cinematographer and Director
"A tenet of reality shows were interviews and we wanted to get around shooting interviews so we would arrange conversations between the cast to illicit the same exposition that would happen in an interview. A lot of times when the cast was sitting down talking to each other, it's because we wanted them to go over details of an incident or something they heard about with each other as opposed to talking straight to camera. So those scenes were often composed and pre-set so that could happen."

PHOTO: The Hills stars Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port and Audrina Patridge film in Los Angeles, Feb. 21, 2007. Courtesy Jason Sands
"The Hills" stars Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port and Audrina Patridge film in Los Angeles, Feb. 21, 2007.

Tony DiSanto, Executive Producer and MTV's Former President of Programming
"It was real, people. They all knew each other. All the relationships were real. Everything unfolding was real."

Liz Gateley, Executive Producer and Creator of "Laguna Beach"
"We did have to push for more stories. When we did 'Laguna Beach,' we shot for six or seven months; February to August and we got six episodes so we had a month and a week per episode. As 'The Hills' got more popular, the network started ordering 22 episodes and sometimes twice a year we were airing. We were really shooting year-round; the kids never got breaks. We had to produce an episode a week. We did push them and we did have to make more story happen in a shorter amount of time. We sort of had to figure it out as we went."

Adam DiVello
"Whitney falling down a flight of stairs on 'Good Morning America,' obviously we didn't ask her to fall down a flight of steps on national television. We were up at 5 or something in the morning shooting that. Andre Leon Talley was out there. That was a real moment."

PHOTO: The Hills star Spencer Pratt films a scene on March 1, 2007 in Los Angeles. Courtesy Jason Sands
"The Hills" star Spencer Pratt films a scene on March 1, 2007 in Los Angeles.

Tony DiSanto
"For me, it became a moot point what was truly real or not. It wasn't meant to be a hard documentary and it wasn't meant to be a voyeuristic documentary. It was meant to tell the story of these kids in a cool and interesting way and present it and let it flow structurally almost like how you watch narrative television. If people were enjoying the story and they liked the storylines and the relationships ... then I feel like it was doing its job."

Hisham Abed
"Mostly everything was based in a truth."

Tony DiSanto
"Where the fakeness, or where the editorial hands come in, was as the show progressed and we started working with a tighter box. As things became more and more difficult to shoot and schedules became tougher, we started having to plan things out."

PHOTO: The Hill star Audrina Patridge gets silly in between takes of filming the reality show on Feb. 28, 2007. Courtesy Jason Sands
"The Hill" star Audrina Patridge gets silly in between takes of filming the reality show on Feb. 28, 2007.

Jason Sands, Director of Seasons 1-3
"We had no idea what those kids were going to say. There were no scripts. What would happen is we had producers who would work with the talent and find out what was happening with their lives and we would try and document that."

Adam DiVello
"I've never covered it up or made any excuses for it: There are times where we had to go back and shoot stuff that we missed. We only shot four days a week and we did miss some stuff. If someone broke up with someone over the weekend, we had to [have the cast members] go to lunch and talk about it."

PHOTO: The Hills Executive Producer Tony DiSanto hugs Justin Bobby Brescia, who starred on the series in 2007-2010. Courtesy Tony DiSanto
"The Hills" Executive Producer Tony DiSanto hugs Justin "Bobby" Brescia, who starred on the series in 2007-2010.

David George, Executive Producer of "The Hills Finale: Live in Hollywood After Show"
"It was both [real and fake]. A lot of the jump off points -- the relationships, the conflicts -- a lot of those things all were 100% real in my mind. But I also think that the show was embellished at certain points and liberties were taken. And as shows progress and storylines have to go further, the show has to be produced more and more. The answer to that is both."

Liz Gateley
"People don't realize how much editing had to do with what was special about 'The Hills;' finding that one byte that led you to the next scene. There were also things that we could heighten in the edit by choosing certain bytes over other bytes, which is what we did on that show."

PHOTO: Cast and crew members; are seen at the MTVs The Hills Live: A Hollywood Ending Finale event held at The Roosevelt Hotel, July 13, 2010, in Hollywood, Calif. John Shearer/Getty Images
Cast and crew members; are seen at the MTV's 'The Hills Live: A Hollywood Ending' Finale event held at The Roosevelt Hotel, July 13, 2010, in Hollywood, Calif.

Jason Sands
"It was real."

Liz Gateley
"Those kids all grew up together and Lauren really did go to San Francisco with Heidi as her roommate. Audrina really did live in her apartment building. The dynamics were always real. I really do stand by that."

Hisham Abed
"I'd say all reality TV operates in a grey area."