Arts & Entertainment

Conceiving the Idea for “Stranger Things”

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 14:35 min

In this case study, Matt and Ross walk you through the first brainstorming documents from the concept that would become the hit TV series "Stranger Things."

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Topics include: Write Down Your Ideas


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Something is coming, something hungry for blood. [DOG BARKING] Oh. [LIGHT BULB ZAPPING] [STATIC BLIPPING] - The idea for "Stranger Things" actually traces all the way back to 2010. At that point, we were in the middle of writing movies. We wanted to write movies. We actually sat down and just wrote out-- I think we spent a week or two weeks just spitballing a lot of movie ideas, as we were trying to figure out, what are we going to write next? And we actually still have this document. You'll see all the ideas we wrote out. And we've talked about this a little bit before, but you're going to throw out a lot of ideas. A lot of them are not going to be good. And even the idea that is "Stranger Things" or would turn out to become "Stranger Things" was not good in the 2010 iteration. - There was a kernel there. But even then in 2010, we didn't realize that that kernel was there. It just sort of sat there. We put it away in a drawer, and we didn't look at it for years. And, again, this is why even ideas that you might not think are good or whatever, keep a record of them, don't lose them. Email them to yourself. Keep them on Google Docs or whatever program you're using, because you never know, years from now, it may come back and actually prove to be an important part of an idea, a puzzle piece of an idea that you're working on, which is what happened with "Stranger Things." So we're going to show you now this 2010 document where we came up with a bunch of different movie ideas. I don't think we've shown this to anyone outside of our parents and a few close friends back in 2010. Some of these ideas, like Matt said, are not the best in the world. But, again, that's part of the process. So let's take a look at this document. MATT DUFFER: Yeah, screenplay ideas from-- this is-- it looks like November 22 from 2010. We have a movie idea for something called Make-A-Monster. That's not a good title. ROSS DUFFER: "In the near future, advancements in genetic engineering allow for the designing of unique domesticated pets. For example, a website called Design-A-Dog allows you to mix breeds to create your own personalized puppy." And then this young boy named Liam finds a company to actually make a monster, which is you combine DNA from different animals, and he creates his own monster, which, of course, then ends up turning into a bit of a nightmare. Uh. - Uh. You know, whatever. - I don't know. There's a reason that was-- - I give it-- - --shoved into a drawer. But if one of you want to run with that idea, go for it. - I give it-- but you know what? Here's what is interesting, though, about this Make-A-Monster idea. So we love the idea of a kid raising a monster, right? So it-- or we liked some aspects of it, right? It feels a little like "Gremlins"-y. And the spirit of that kind of wound up in "Stranger Things" Season 2, when we had Dustin have-- ...

About the Instructor

Before they turned our world upside down with "Stranger Things," Matt and Ross Duffer honed their scare tactics on Wayward Pines and their debut thriller, Hidden. Now, the acclaimed showrunners reveal the dark science of creating a monster hit. Craft gripping story arcs, conjure unforgettable characters—like Eleven or Jim Hopper—and turn your raw idea into a pitch for the next big thing to cross over from the other side.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

The Duffer Brothers

Matt and Ross Duffer—the "Stranger Things" masterminds—teach you how they plotted the series from beginning to end, and how you can bring your own idea to life.

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