Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Reclaiming its number 1 spot as the most streamed program the week of August 1 according to Nielsen, Stranger Things continues to draw audiences with sights, sounds, and feelings of 1980s nostalgia that keeps viewers grounded throughout its increasingly intense horror. In this post, we’ll provide series’ fanatics with our top four production design secrets that are emblematic of the pop culture phenomenon that is Stranger Things.
Secret No. 1:
The real world and the Upside Down are the same set. This was originally the case due to limited resources in the early days of the show, but it's since been carried into the making of the 4th season.
Secret No. 2:
The Creel House is located in Rome, Georgia and was built in the 1870s. This house used to be a bed and breakfast, and the new homeowners are in the process of renovating and bringing it back to life.
Secret No. 3
Production Designer Chris Trujillo really wanted to capture different colors and desert textures for the scenes in California. Specifically, the pizza mobile was lots of fun. They actually worked on another smaller van that they really loved, but they discovered that it would be too tight for filming purposes, so they changed it to the VW van that is featured in the show.
Secret No. 4
One of Trujillo's secrets to creating that authentic, lived in look to a set is doing lots of estate sale pillaging. He and set decorator Jess Royal would go to the suburbs on the weekends to dig through these 'time capsules.' "One dead man's junk drawer is another man's period perfect set dressing," he says.
Why is Production Design So Important?
A production designer is head of the art department. On board from the beginning, they work with the director + producers to help bring the writer’s script, director’s vision + producer’s plans together as a visual whole. The production designer researches or "scouts" locations, eventually securing + preparing it for shooting. They budget the cost of materials, track expenses, and typically oversee the art director, set designers, illustrators + scenic painters to develop a specific visual style for a production. From minute details to overarching themes, a production designer must consider every aspect shown on screen, and whether big budget or small, they must be resourceful and think on their feet. Viewers don't often realize how many people are involved behind the scenes and how much time + energy goes into a major production like Stranger Things. According to IMDB, about 550 people have cycled through this series' art department over the past 4 seasons, working alongside Chris Trujillo to bring the world of Stranger Things to life. Trujillo has been the Production Designer since season one and has received two Emmy nominations for his work. It's no secret that Stranger Things and the world it introduced to us will leave a lasting impact.