Arts & Entertainment

How to Develop a TV Series Idea

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 18:14 min

The idea is everything. Matt and Ross share their process for coming up with one you’ll love: Seek inspiration, brainstorm, and embrace the importance of a “core drive.”

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Focus On What You Love • Look For Inspiration • Defining The "Drive" • Let Your Mind Wander • Assignment Watch Your Favorite Stuff


[MUSIC PLAYING] - The first stage of development is coming up with your idea, or what we like to call just sort of the big idea. And this is, honestly, one of the most crucial things you're going to do in the whole process, if not the most crucial. Because assuming this goes well, you're going to be working with this idea for potentially years, or in our case, we've been doing it now seven years with "Stranger Things." So you're going to want an idea that really gets you excited and really inspires you. - I think it is a mistake a lot of people make in that they sort of-- they're so excited to write a script and have a script that they kind of go, well, that idea sounds good. Let me just start to write it. I mean, we've certainly made that mistake, where we've started writing an idea-- there's something good just conceptually wrong with the idea, or the idea itself is not exciting enough, and there's nothing you can do. You know you could waste a year or two years working on something that is actually just the problem is that the very first stage. So it's important that this first stage you get right, and you're working on an idea that you're really, really excited about you. Have to have a ton of passion for it, because best case scenario, you know, like in the case of "Stranger Things," it works, and people like it, and then you could be working on it for a decade. So make sure you love this idea. [MUSIC PLAYING] - This is a difficult part of the process to talk about, but the way we work, in terms of coming up with that big idea, is we just start throwing a ton of ideas at the wall, and we're just seeing what sticks. And I think sometimes, people make the mistake of going, well, they're looking around at the shows or the movies that are popular right now. The classic, back when we were growing up, was this is going to be like "Die Hard," but I'm going to put it in a different location-- "Die Hard" on a bus. - But that worked. "Die Hard" on a bus worked, but don't let that throw you off. So really, I think what you want to do is just think about what excites you. A lot of it should be more personal than that. I think the problem with looking around at what's popular and riffing on that is that may not have any personal meaning to you. It's just what's popular, what's in the zeitgeist now, but that is changing so rapidly. I remember when we were coming up in college, we wanted to sell a script. The big thing was found footage. Right? So I found footage is not much of a thing anymore, and we were never huge fans of found footage. But we suddenly found ourselves trying to write a found footage movie, and we didn't really care about found footage. Because we didn't have a lot of passion for it, the lack of passion translated to bad scripts. So I think an epiphany that we had was-- and it seems so obvious now, but it wasn't to us at the time-- was just kind of cut out all the noise. Stop reading "Variety" a...

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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