One of the biggest television phenomena of our time, what would the Duffer brothers’ Stranger Things be without The Upside Down, or its perfectly calibrated retro aesthetic? As expected last season, the series’ production design found its place among 18 total Emmy nominations, though production designer Chris Trujillo and his team were not among those leaving the night with a statuette. With the stellar expansion of the singularly imaginative series’ world this season, all that could change very soon.
As the Emmys’ first phase of voting heads into its final weekend, the Stranger Things team presents a video breaking down the extraordinary worldbuilding that has gone into the series to date.
Setting out to work with the Duffer brothers on Season 1, the series’ production designer found creative minds that were “on a very similar page.”
“We discussed all of the classics that are very obvious—your Goonies and your Spielberg films,” Trujillo remembers, reflecting back on the touchstones at the series’ inception. “Then, it got really exciting for me when we started talking about Klute, Silkwood—these other darker, little grittier American movies.”
Working with the Duffers, it didn’t take long for trust to be established. “As far as Chris and his department, we leave them completely alone,” series co-creator Matt Duffer offers, “and then we walk into these incredible sets.”
For director and executive producer Shawn Levy, bringing Stranger Things to life as always been a rigorous process. “To create an authentic period world requires thousands of specific decisions—that sheet, that cassette tape on that bedroom dresser,” he shares.
“It’s the same with the lighting, and the editing and everything,” Matt Duffer adds. “You have a certain obsessiveness every step of the way.”
Setting out to create Season 2—with an aesthetic template in place—the Duffers and their team were looking to broaden the scope of their world. “From the very beginning of Season 2, we were discussing the shadow monster and all of these big, supernatural elements,” Trujillo says. “It definitely got bigger—there was a little more spectacle, the danger got a little bit broader and scarier.”
To hear more from the Stranger Things cast and crew about the making of the series, watch the video below: