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October 2017

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Page 19 of 43 18 POST OCTOBER 2017 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR n a few short years, twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, known pro- fessionally as The Duffer Brothers, have established themselves as masters of suspense in the science-fiction and horror genres, largely thanks to their hit TV show, Stranger Things, on Netflix. Raised in Durham, NC, they began making films in the third grade using the Hi8 camcorder they received as a gift from their parents, and went on to attend Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, graduating in 2007 with degrees in film production. They went on to write and direct several short films, attracting the attention of both Warner Bros., which acquired their script for the post-apocalyptic horror film Hidden, and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who hired them as writers for multiple episodes of the Fox series Wayward Pines. When they pitched their idea for Stranger Things, a homage to 1980s genre films, the series was picked up by Netflix and premiered in the summer of 2016. It went on to become a global phenomenon, with the brothers at the helm as writers, directors and executive producers. The atmospheric drama, about a group of nerdy misfits and strange events in an outwardly average small town, not only nailed its early '80s vibe and overt homages to that decade's master pop storytellers (Steven Spielberg and Stephen King), but it quickly made stars out of its young ensemble cast — Millie Bobby Brown, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink and Finn Wolfhard. It also quickly attracted a huge, ded- icated fan base, critical plaudits and has won a ton of awards, including Emmys, a SAG Award, two Critics Choice Awards (including "Most Binge Worthy Series") and the cast has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, People's Choice and Shorty Award. The highly anticipated second sea- son of Stranger Things will premiere on Netflix, later this month. Here, in an exclusive interview from their Hollywood offices, the Duffers, who were deep in post at press time, talk about making the hit series, their love of post and VFX. This is a very ambitious, cinematic show, with a lot of layers. How did it come about? Matt Duffer: "We grew up as movie nerds, wanting to make movies and when we came out here we noticed this big shift happening — that movies weren't so interesting and that TV had all this great stuff going on. We were pitching ideas, but no one was interested in our movie ideas, only if we had TV ideas, and we were like, 'No.' But then we began thinking about our Stranger Things concept, which wasn't really working as a movie, as this eight-hour long form movie. The timing was good as True Detective was about to come out, and Soderbergh had done The Nick, and neither looked like TV to us. We looked up to those directors, so we then thought, 'What would our dream eight- hour movie look like?' So we began think- ing about all the movies and directors we loved as kids — Spielberg, John Carpenter — and married that to our love of Stephen King books." Ross Duffer: "We loved genre, but then we found that if you're making a horror film, they want a big scare every two min- utes, so everyone's jumping out of their seats, while the stuff we fell in love with left far more room for character. And with TV, it's always about character, as you just can't sustain hours of a show if you don't care about the people. It was exciting to us, as this was a world where we could tell a genre story, complete with the monster, but also explore character in depth." MD: "It's so funny that movies and TV are opposites in that way. In movies, it's all plot and no character, and in TV you have to fight for plot, and we wanted this to have pace and feel more like a movie, but still have all the character arcs. So it's a constant balancing act, and we try and favor character." How do you work as a team? RD: "For a start, it's great being brothers and supporting each other, as it's so much work and sometimes you just burn out after 12 hours on a set. Your brain's fried." MD: "And we're so heavily involved in all the writing that all the directing decisions have been worked out by the time we get on set. And any disagreements are worked out by then, too. So the stress comes with trying to figure out how to get what we want on the day. But we have a lot of the same crew from Season 1, so we have a good rhythm now." Is Season 2 finished now? MD: "Almost. We have a couple to go. THE DUFFER BROTHERS ON STRANGER THINGS BY IAIN BLAIR I THE NEW MASTERS OF SUSPENSE The Duffers nailed the show's atmosphere with a 1980s vibe, nerdy mistfits and some very strange happenings.

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