One of the great privileges of the modern era is that the a quick search of the internet can allow journalists, genre fans, and struggling screenwriters to get a deeper look at the productions that entertain and inspire us. One thing in particular this has lead to is the wider availability of the original screenplays for films and television shows. By reading these earlier drafts, and initial pilot episodes, we can get a better understanding of the creative process and craft of film and television production. Recently, the LA Screenwriter published a copy of the Stranger Things pilot episode ‘Montauk.’ A quick read through the screenplay demonstrates the ways in which the Duffer Brothers used description to set the proper “horror” tone in the screenplay.
One of the interesting things tidbits was the reference to Mike’s dad attempting to watch CHiPs , but being frustrated by a “snowstorm of static.” For those of us who grew up with analog television, the words on the page create an instant image. Like William Gibson’s famous quote, “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” it’s a phrase that has to be “seen” to be understood by younger viewers. My daughters would read the Gibson quote and think, “so…dad…the sky is blue?” Quite a different understanding from the original intent. It is little details like this that are why the show was so successful at capturing the small town 80s feel. The writers gave cues to the production team that could be translated into strong visuals.
There were a lot of easter eggs in the show, but there are even more in the screenplay. Check it out.