Arts & Entertainment

Setting and Worldbuilding

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 09:18 min

The world of "Stranger Things" is one of its most engaging aspects. Matt and Ross discuss how they developed the setting for the series by drawing inspiration from films, games, and their own childhood.

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

Topics include: Building A Fictional World • Finding Visual Inspiration In Other Works • Assignment Craft A Setting


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Where'd it go? Where is it? - Will! - OK, so now that you have, you know, some of your characters roughed out or some ideas for the characters, I think it is worth thinking about the world that these characters are going to inhabit. So this setting-- we had talked about this a little bit in terms of we didn't do a lot of research when it came to Montauk and ultimately Hawkins. It was small town by the beach, whatever. But I think something that's worth doing is start talking about sort out the mini settings within your bigger setting, the locations that your characters can exist in. So for "Stranger Things," for instance, you got Mike's basement is a major one. You got the core-- ROSS DUFFER: The, gym the junkyard. MATT DUFFER: The gym, yeah, junkyard, and you don't have to do a "Lord of the Rings" style or George RR Martin map. Just write down some of these locations that really could offer a really good setting for certain scenes. It's just nice to start-- again, you're not going to have a super in focus picture of your world at this point, but it's gonna start coming a little bit more in focus. So you have some characters now. Start to think about that setting that they're gonna inhabit. - And I remember, like, early on season three, we came in-- we had a writers room at this point, and we came in and the writers had done this exact exercise, enlisted a bunch of possible locations that would be fun to explore in season three. And one of them was a mall. And we went, well, that's interesting. That would be a fun place for our characters to inhabit. So it's possible that one of these locations ends up becoming more important to your plot. So it's always a good exercise. - Season two-- season two was tunnels. I remember we're just like tunnels are cool. Like-- ROSS DUFFER: It's our very thing. MATT DUFFER: Yeah, we all like tunnels, and then that does sort of become a major part of the season. And one of my favorite things in the season are all those sort of underground tunnels that the kids have to navigate in the finale. ROSS DUFFER: So, again, you don't need to know how it's going to play a role in your script. It can just be a good exercise to start filling out this world and going, OK, well, in their journey maybe they could go here. Maybe they could go to the mall. Maybe they could go here. - You're just filling it out, more detail. You don't have to use any of this, but it's going to be it's going to be good to have. - Yeah. [MUSIC PLAYING] There's another version in terms of your setting or your world where it's not based in reality at all, which is what we had with this other dimension in "Stranger Things." Now it wasn't super developed initially when we were first coming up with the idea in the pilot. You saw some of this rough idea we had of, like, a mouth leading to the other world and all of this, but one thing that we h...

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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