This past weekend hordes of people who grew up in the 1980s started watching, or even binged all the way through the latest Netflix original series, Stranger Things. With heaps of 80s nostalgia in tow, the show not only brought back tons of visual elements from the era, but also a familiar tone and storytelling style that was lost once MTV brought reality TV to the forefront of pop culture. The series not only achieves greatness in throwback form, but also remains fresh for a whole new generation of kids coming of age.
Created by the dynamic writing and directing team of brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer, and executive produced by Shawn Levy who also directed two episodes. Netflix's newest original scripted series is a love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation. Stranger Things is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.
"We have so much nostalgia and love for this era. We really wanted to see something on television that was in the vein of the classic films we loved growing up: the Spielbergs, the John Carpenters, as well as the novels of Stephen King. And to us, what makes all of these stories so great to us -- and so resonant -- is that they all explore that magical point where the ordinary meets the extraordinary. When we were growing up, we were just regular kids, living in the suburbs of North Carolina, playing Dungeons and Dragons with our nerdy friends. But when we watched these films and read these books, we felt transported. Suddenly our lives had the potential for adventure -- maybe tomorrow we would find a treasure map in the attic, maybe my brother would vanish into the TV screen. We really want to capture that feeling with Stranger Things. We want to bring that feeling to people who grew up on those films -- and we also want to bring it to a whole new generation." - Matt Duffer
Creators Matt and Ross Duffer are a unique pair. The duo pulled out all the stops to get the series made. Below are some of the fun facts about Stranger Things you didn't know.
- To help sell the show, the Duffers edited a mock "trailer" the combined clips from over 25 feature films, including E .T. , Nightmare on Elm Street, Super 8, and Halloween.
- The composers of the Stranger Things soundtrack (Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon) were two members of an Austin synth band called SURVIVE; their music was featured in the soundtrack of the film T he Guest. This is how the Duffers initially discovered them. Michael and Kyle both quit their day jobs in order to work on the show.
- The composers (Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon) have written over 13 hours of music for the show.
- Winona Ryder wanted her hairstyle modeled after Meryl Streep's hair in Silkwood.
- Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine have appeared together once before: in the music video for Roy Orbison's "A Love So Beautiful."
- The title sequence was inspired by the work of Richard Greenberg, who designed a number of classic 80s title sequences (including Alien, Altered States, Superman, and The Goonies) .
- Gaten (Dustin) and Caleb (Lucas) both acted on Broadway; Gaten played Gavroche in Les Miserables, and Caleb played Young Simba in The Lion King. The two boys knew each other but they didn't become close friends until after working on Stranger Things.
- Millie Brown (who plays Eleven) and Charlie Heaton (who plays Jonathan) are both from the UK.
- Gaten's voice changed so much by the time production ended that the sound team was unable to use him for ADR (additional dialogue recording).
- Before starting the show, the writers all watched (or rewatched) a large list of films, including E .T., Stand By Me, The Goonies, The Thing, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- The Duffers had all the boys audition with scenes from Stand By Me.
- To help sell the show, the Duffers created a "look book" which was designed in the style of a vintage Stephen King novel.
- Although the show was shot digitally on the RED Dragon, a layer of real film grain was applied to help achieve a more vintage look.
- It was Caleb's request to wear a camouflage bandana in the show; he wears it for the final three episodes.
- The monster was achieved through a combination of prosthetics, animatronics, performance, and CG.
- The toddlers on set were very scared by the "monster," but they were calmed when told that he was just like the monsters in Monsters, Inc.
- To get Millie to float in a kiddie pool, twelve hundred pounds of epsom salt were dissolved into the water.
- Millie had to shave most of her hair off for the show. As can be expected of any 11-year-old girl, this was a terrifying prospect. The Duffers showed her how cool Charlize Theron looked in Mad Max: Fury Road, after which Millie agreed to it.
- Finn Wolfhard is a film buff and wants to be a director when he grows up. He is a particular fan of Sam Raimi's early work.
- Hopper's trailer was purchased by the art department for $1.
- For some of the laboratory scenes, Millie (Eleven) was fully submerged in an underwater immersion tank. She was able to breathe by wearing a Sea Trek helmet, which weighs approximately 70 lbs above water; it weighs 15 lbs beneath the surface of the water. The helmet was designed for shallow "underwater walking."
- To direct Millie while she was underwater, the Duffers communicated with her through a small radio in her ear.