Cinematography on The Hills / Hisham Abed

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I have to admit that I went through a Hills phase. After purchasing the first season on iTunes out of curiosity and watching the entire thing in a couple of hours, I got addicted. I liked the show because it somehow made me feel better about myself. I agree that the show is extremely scripted, fake, and often a waste of time to watch as half of it consists of Lauren Conrad’s blank, glazed stare, as she parts her lips and utters a soft but somewhat sincere “Yeah you’re right………………….” – a phrase which seems to always last at least 5 seconds and takes up most of the show. I stopped watching The Hills after the second season primarily because the plots (or lack thereof) were becoming too repetitive and predictable. I also could not stand Spencer’s face.

After watching a recent for this class, I found myself reaching a new level of appreciation for The Hills. I never really actively watched the show or closely observed cinematography, sound placement, etc. This time, however, I noticed the brilliance of the show’s cinematography and photography. A TIME article calls the show “possibly the best-looking series on television”. The show’s mid and long-range shots framed by the L.A landscape and warm sunlight give it an artistic feel. 

The genius behind the show’s cinematography is Hisham Abed, the show’s director and director of photography who has also worked on The City, Laguna Beach and the film Elizabethtown. In an article on the New York Times published in May 2006, Abed explains using color tones of red and orange to highlight the romance within the show Laguna Beach, but changed these tones to blue and silver to signify and exhibit the tension often seen on The Hills.

With that said, I may have to start watching the show on mute.

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One Response to “Cinematography on The Hills / Hisham Abed”

  1. alyshacasnellie Says:

    I remember that the very first thing I noticed when watching the pilot episode of Laguna Beach back in high school was the very visually striking nature of the show. As most reality shows at the time seemed to be largely composed of shots from cameras that were obviously hand-held, Laguna Beach’s new refined and artistic style was very distinct and eye-catching. The difference was so striking, in fact, that it honestly took a good two or three minutes for me to figure out if this show was scripted or not.

    I guess this just goes to show how much my perception of “reality” on television is based in that particular show’s aesthetics. The wobbly camera that quickly zooms in and out and pans all over the place may not be the most visually appealing of shots, but it does appear to be the most genuine, or at least the one that I’m most likely to accept as being true to reality. The mistakes and imperfections that are rarely seen in Laguna Beach, The Hills and The City footage are what often add a sense of spontaneity and believability – also things that are often rarely seen in these programs.

    Not that I have a problem with that, though. I’m not exactly watching these shows to get a sense of reality.

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