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Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (born February 15, 1984), known professionally as The Duffer Brothers are American directors, editors, actors, producers and writers. They are twin brothers most known for their creation Stranger Things, a Netflix original series.

History

Early Life

Matt and Ross Duffer grew up in Durham, North Carolina where they developed an obsession for film at an early age. In the third grade, the brothers received a Hi8 video camera from their parents. Each summer, they would use this camera to create their own feature length films.[2] Their first film was a feature length adaptation of the trading card game Magic: The Gathering. In high school, they developed an interest in genre, and started creating horror films.[3]

The Duffers moved to Orange, California, attending the Dodge College of Film and Arts located at Chapman University. While there, they wrote and directed a few short films, among them being a short called We All Fall Down. This film won Best Short at the 2005 Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas. In 2007, they were given the opportunity to meet with producer Mace Neufeld, who had produced the film The Hunt for Red October. Under his Guidance, they created their senior thesis project, a short film titled Eater. This film was one of five films selected that represented Chapman at the annual First Cut screening at the DGA.[4]

Early Career

After college, they wrote the script for the post-apocalyptic horror film Hidden. The script was eventually acquired by Warner Bros. in 2011, and the Duffers directed the film in 2012. The film was released in 2015.

After director M. Night Shyamalan read the screenplay for Hidden, the brothers were contacted by producer Donald De Line, asking them to be writers for Fox's science fiction television series Wayward Pines.[5] They wrote four episodes for the show.

At one point, the Duffers requested to direct the Warner Bros. film adaptation of Stephen King's It, but were denied as they weren't established.[6]

Stranger Things

While the Duffers had always been interested in film, they became excited about the prospect of television becoming more cinematic. This gave them the idea of taking something like True Detective or It and making it an eight-ten hour miniseries.[6]

The initial inspiration for the plot of Stranger Things came from Prisoners, a 2013 film starring Hugh Jackman where a man searches for his missing daughter. Wanting the show to have something more, the Duffers began discussing “more childlike sensibilities”, like having a monster devouring people. They also discussed bizarre experiments conducted by the government during the Cold War that they had read about, especially Project MKUltra. This led to the show taking place in the '80s, which also allowed them to pay homage to all the films they had loved growing up.[7]

However, two weeks after they conceived the idea they threw it away, believing there was no way they'd be able to create it due to their inexperience with television. When they were hired as writers for Wayward Pines, they used the opportunity to learn how to create a television series.[5]

They wrote the show's pilot script (then titled Montauk), and created a 20 page pitch book with the intention of resembling a Stephen King book.[6] They also created a mock trailer composed of 20-30 films that had inspired the series.[8] They were rejected by 15-20 networks, a major concern being that four of the major characters were kids, but the show itself wasn't necessarily for children. Execs wanted the show to either be made for children, or to have the story centered on Hopper investigating the paranormal occurrences in the town. The Duffers refused to comply with these demands, as they felt everything interesting about the story would be lost.[7] In late 2014, Dan Cohen, the Vice President of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to director-producer Shawn Levy. Levy immediately saw the script's potential and knew he had to do whatever it took to bring the Duffers' vision to life. They then pitched the series to Netflix, and within 24 hours they had bought the entire season.[9]

Credits

Writers

Directors

Filmography

Year Title Credits Notes
2005 We All Fall Down Directors and writers Short
2006 The Big Toe Editors Short
2007 Eater Directors and editors Short
2008 Saturday Night at Norm's Producers Short
2008 The Milkman Producers and actors Short. Matt played an officer, Ross played a driveby thug
2009 Abraham's Boys Directors, writers, producers and editors Short (screenplay), second hand director
2009 Road to Moloch Writers Short (screenplay)
2012 Vessel Co-writers Short film; co-writer
2015 Hidden Directors and writers First feature film
2015 Wayward Pines Writers and producers 4 episodes written, (co-executive) producer of 2 episodes
2016 Stranger Things Creators, directors, writers and producers 10 episodes directed, 3 episodes written, (executive) producers of 8 episodes

References

  1. "Twitter status made by the writers of the show."
  2. Durham’s Duffer Brothers land on NetflixThe News & Observer. July 9, 2016.
  3. Matt and Ross Duffer Discuss ‘Stranger Things,’ a Nightmare on ’80s StreetThe New York Times. August 11, 2016
  4. Who Are the Duffer Brothers? Learn More About the Creators of ‘Stranger Things’Slash Film. August 3, 2016
  5. 5.0 5.1 ‘Stranger Things’: Creators Matt and Ross Duffer Reveal Plans for a Possible Season 2Collider. July 31, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Duffer Brothers Talk 'Stranger Things' Influences, 'It' Dreams and Netflix Phase 2The Hollywood Reporter. August 1, 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 'Stranger Things': How Two Brothers Created Summer's Biggest TV HitRolling Stone. August 3, 2016.
  8. Inside ‘Stranger Things’: The Duffer Bros. on How They Made the TV Hit of the SummerDaily Beast. August 7, 2016.
  9. ‘Stranger Things’: Shawn Levy on Directing Winona Ryder, Netflix’s Viral ModelVariety. July 22, 2016.

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