21 Laps Entertainment is going through a change. The company that director Shawn Levy founded over a decade ago used to just produce family-friendly films. But over the last few years, the company has expanded its scope by producing such films as The Spectacular Now, Real Steel, This Is Where I Leave You, Arrival, Table 19, Fist Fight, and the great new Netflix series Stranger Things – which just went online today.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a new mystery series from Matt and Ross Duffer that plays like a love letter to the supernatural classics of the early 80’s (which is where the story takes place). When a young boy disappears on his way home, friends, family, the police and the government search for answers. But as the mystery unfolds, we start to learn about terrifying supernatural forces, one very strange little girl, and top-secret government experiments.
I’ve seen the first four episodes and I’m completely hooked and extremely impressed with all aspects of the show from the kids’ acting to the music and even the production design. Stranger Things is definitely worth checking out and stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, Cara Buono, Charlie Heaton, and Matthew Modine.
To help promote the show, I recently sat down with Shawn Levy (who, besides producing the show, also directed episodes 3 and 4) and 21 Laps Entertainment Senior Vice-President Dan Cohen. During the extended interview, they talked about how the project came together, why Netflix, and how amazing they’ve been to work with, the editing process, production design, resources and budgeting, how only a few people saw the show before it was done, how they’re hoping to start on a second season soon that would follow the lives of the characters introduced in season one, and so much more. If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes of the making of Stranger Things, I promise you’ll enjoy this interview. Check it out in the player above and I’ve listed what we talked about below.
Shawn Levy & Dan Cohen:
0:17 – How did everything initially come together?
- 3:32 – Netflix bought it within first 24 hours of pitch.
- 3:41 – How did it become eight episodes? Why Netflix?
- 5:50 – Do you envision more stories within this world, or within the characters?
- 6:25 – The producers plan to follow lives of these characters in following seasons.
- 7:07 – Production design, resources and budgeting with Netflix.
- 9:20 – The producers discuss how Netflix helped fund Stranger Things, they fund excess costs.
- 10:10 – They talk about their relationship with Netflix.
- 11:26 – How was editing process handled?
- 12:00 – Only six people saw it prior to airing (3 execs at Netflix)- no testing process.
- 14:05 – Discusses possible Stranger Things marathon.
- 14:30 – Shooting schedule for Netflix, delivering it all at once.
- 15:50 – How did they cast?
- 17:35 – Shawn talks about directing while the Duffers wrote the rest of the season.
- 19:10 – Writing scripts during shooting process.
- 20:10 – Coordination/Consistency between Duffers and Shawn (directors) by watching dailies.
- 21:35 – Selling Netflix a feature pitch for a sci-fi film.
- 23:32 – How involved do the Duffers want to be in future seasons?