The trick was in how the show was filmed and edited.
Travis: “The show was shot with cameras on long lenses, meaning the cameras are far away, which does two things.
I’m not quite sure who brought ‘Unwritten’ to my attention…but as soon as we heard it, we knew it was perfect for .
We focus-grouped it, and people were really confused.
People were fighting in the focus groups like, ‘This is a scripted show,’ and the other ones like, ‘No, it’s not; it’s reality.’ I asked a woman in the focus group if that was a good thing or a bad thing that they were fighting about it so passionately, and she was like, ‘Yeah, I think you have a hit on your hands.’” Sean Travis, executive producer: “I think it’s still the only real docu-soap/docu-series that was done without any into-camera interviews.
That’s when we went back and shot the whole first scene of Lauren walking on the beach, and we had that voice-over over it where she said, ‘This was the best year of my life, the last year in high school,’ or whatever. It was initially going to be a straight ensemble, not Lauren’s point of view, but doing that gave the whole show a focus, and made it clearer and easier for us to not have confessionals or interviews.
It all started with or any shows like that, so it was like, ‘Let’s take those out and make it feel like it’s a scripted series, but having the kids create the dialogue, and we’ll edit it together to make it make sense.’ It was very difficult in the beginning…
Brian Graden at MTV, our boss at the time, specifically challenged us by saying, ‘ owns that space with the confessional.
Can you guys come up with a show where you can tell the narrative without doing that?
One, it makes it really steady, and you can hold a shot close up on someone’s face, and really notice the smaller expressions.
Two, if the cameras are far away, then the cast feels that they have some privacy, and they can pretty much forget about the camera because it’s all the way across the restaurant.
These narrative arcs captured not just viewers’ attention (at the height of its run, the series was the most-watched show in its time slot among its target demographic), but also landed Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari, Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag — better known as Speidi — and other cast members on the covers of tabloids. You got us talking back then, and we’re still talking now.