A Halloween-ish atmosphere, an homage to 80s movies, an awesome soundtrack, and a hint of something supernatural… When Stranger Things first came out, I was hooked.
As the seasons went by, things went up and down (or should I say upside down), but, in my opinion, they did a great job with the last (fourth) season. I think it’s fair to say I am a fan of the show.
Either way, I know I am sort of a fan of Matt and Ross Duffer. Judging by their interviews and media appearances, they are a spontaneous, creative, and entertaining duo. So, for me, their MasterClass was high on the list of the classes I wanted to take.
But did the Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass meet my expectations, and since it’s not the shortest course out there, was it really worth it?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
What is the Duffer Brothers MasterClass?
“The Duffer Brothers teach Developing an Original TV Series” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a subscription-based platform known for offering video-based classes taught by renowned experts.
This MasterClass is taught by Matt and Ross Duffer, American film and television writers and directors best known for their hit Netflix science fiction horror drama Stranger Things.
The Duffers Brothers’ MasterClass offers an in-depth look into the creation of Stranger Things. Through examples, personal experiences, and writing demos, the Duffer Brothers explain how to create a TV show step-by-step, which can be beneficial to anyone interested in pursuing a career in TV or film.
The course features 18 lessons with a duration of 5 hours and 18 minutes in total. Compared to some other MasterClasses, the course is relatively long, but it’s also dynamic and well-structured, and I personally wished it was longer.
Who are Matt and Ross Duffer?
Matt and Ross Duffer (often credited as the Duffer Brothers) are American film and TV writers, directors, and producers.
Their career took a turn when Warner Bros. Pictures acquired their script for the post-apocalyptic horror film Hidden. Several years later, they developed the idea for Stranger Things. The show was quickly picked up by Netflix and eventually became one of the most-watched Netflix series of all time.
After the premiere of the fourth season of Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers launched Upside Down Pictures, a new production company focused on film and television projects as part of the brothers’ deal with Netflix.
What is the target audience for the Duffer Brothers MasterClass?
I think this MasterClass is a must-watch for anyone interested in getting into TV production. The course is detailed, insightful, and to the point, covering the creation of a TV series from start to finish.
The course is especially useful for screenwriters and basically anyone who wants to improve their storytelling skills.
Secondly, taking the Duffers Brothers’ course could be a fun and interesting experience for fans of Stranger Things. The lessons contain numerous examples from the show as well as a behind-the-scenes lesson.
Also, the Duffer Brothers create a Stranger Things spinoff script in their writing demo lessons, which is a real treat for fans of the show as well as aspiring screenwriters.
To sum things up, here are some of the people who would benefit the most from this course:
- Stranger Things fans
- Aspiring writers and storytellers
What does the Duffer Brothers MasterClass cover?
The Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass covers a variety of topics related to screenwriting and creating a TV show.
In other words, they teach how to develop an original TV show from start to finish. This process includes finding an idea, character development, worldbuilding, developing a season arc, writing a script, and pitching a show.
It is a complex process, but the Duffer Brothers break it down in a very understandable way.
Here is a quick overview of all the lessons so you can get a better idea of what to expect:
- Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where the instructors briefly introduce themselves and the course.
- Lessons 2-3 are focused on the development of the idea for a TV show. The instructors also show their documents from the concept that would become Stranger Things.
- Lesson 4 is a writing demo lesson where Matt and Ross write a Stranger Things spinoff in real-time.
- Lessons 5-6 reveal how the Duffer Brothers approach their writing process. They also show never-before-seen documents from the Stranger Things concept development.
- Lessons 7-8 show how to create characters, settings, and the world of a TV series.
- Lesson 9 revolves around building a season arc.
- Lessons 10-11 cover the outlining process.
- Lessons 12-14 cover the screenwriting process and the brothers’ writing demo, where they teach how to write a hook.
- Lessons 15-16 focus on pitching a show. The Duffers also explain how they created a pitch for Stranger Things.
- Lesson 17 takes you a step further and explains what to do once you’ve sold your script.
- Lesson 8 is the final lesson, where Matt and Ross take you behind the scenes of the fourth season of Stranger Things.
My favorite lessons of the Duffer Brothers' MasterClass
I learned a lot in the Duffer Brothers’ course. They really did a tremendous job of breaking down their creative process and explaining their approach to writing.
Plus, I had lots of fun. Matt and Ross are very friendly and down-to-earth, their brainstorming moments are fun to watch, and they’re not hesitant about sharing secrets of the trade.
That being said, it’s hard to pick the best lesson – each and every one grabbed my attention in their own way.
However, here are some of the lessons I particularly liked:
Writing demo: How to write a logline
This lesson gave me a chance to watch the Duffer Brothers brainstorm and write a script. They created a fake spin-off with Stranger Things characters Dustin and Steve, and it was fun to watch them discuss the plot, characters, and words they wanted to use to turn their vision into script.
The Duffer Brothers’ writing approach
Each screenwriter has their own approach, so the brothers shared their own writing tools, habits, and preferences. But as they’ve mentioned several times, you need to find out what works for you.
One of the screenwriting tips they shared includes developing a routine and setting deadlines.
This lesson provides a direct look at the first sketch of Stranger Things characters. It’s fascinating to see how many characters they came up with didn’t end up in the show, as well as how some of them developed into something else.
According to Matt and Ross, it’s okay to keep it simple in the beginning. Also, if you write more stereotypical characters, it’s important to add a twist later on and let your audience know there’s something more beneath each character.
How much does the Duffers Brothers MasterClass cost?
Annual plans are typically available at $120 a year (or $10 per month) for the Individual plan, providing access to MasterClass courses on one device, $180 a year for the Duo plan (two devices), and $240 a year for the Family plan (six devices).
A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it. If you’re interested in film, writing, and TV production, there’s a variety of classes to choose from.
Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
What I liked about the Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass
As you’ve probably already noticed, I really enjoyed this MasterClass. It’s not a short, concise course, but it kept me interested and focused the whole time.
Some of the reasons I felt that way include:
In short, Matt and Ross Duffer are among the best MasterClass teachers I’ve learned from so far. And they don’t have a lot of teaching experience (as far as I know), which makes this even more impressive.
In any case, they often spoke directly to me as a learner. Even when they’re talking about their own experiences and methods, they make sure they turn their story into advice you can apply to your own process or situation.
They’re also very spontaneous, honest, and friendly, and I felt very comfortable and encouraged.
Interesting writing demos
In my opinion, writing demo lessons is the best part of this MasterClass. During these lessons, you can see Matt and Ross write a script and discuss characters, the plot, and the way they write things down.
This was very entertaining, insightful, and refreshing, and I wish some other similar MasterClasses included this type of demo lesson as well.
Another reason why I felt engaged and included was class assignments. At the end of the lesson, Matt and Ross give a simple assignment related to the topic they discussed in the lesson.
For instance, at the end of the lesson “Setting and Worldbuilding,” they suggest you make a simple list of locations where your characters can exist.
Excellent production quality
MasterClass is known for making well-produced, visually stunning video lessons. But I think the Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass is especially well-made.
The setting is great – the Stranger Things lights in the background and music during transitions are a nice touch. The graphics and some filming solutions (like adding a short ‘bloopers’ moment) work really well too.
All in all, the course entails top production quality, and that can only make your experience more enjoyable.
Drawbacks of the Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass
To be honest, there are not that many things I didn’t like about this course. It’s insightful, well-made, and entertaining.
However, there’s one thing that some people might consider a disadvantage…
Strong focus on Stranger Things
Many of the lessons and examples in this course are based on Stranger Things. Although I personally don’t consider this a problem, I can understand that someone who hasn’t seen the show might feel a bit confused at times.
Although Matt and Ross explain everything thoroughly, it’s easier to catch up with the names and character development moments if you’re familiar with the show.
Also, if you’ve seen Stranger Things (or even better, if you’re a fan), you can appreciate some things like never-before-seen documents and fake spin-off scripts.
Review conclusion: Is the Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass worth it?
As someone who really enjoyed watching Stranger Things and admires the Duffer Brothers, I expected a lot from this course.
And did I get what I was looking for? Absolutely yes.
The Duffer Brothers’ MasterClass is insightful, well-structured, and entertaining. It also felt very refreshing and original.
I particularly enjoyed the brothers’ brainstorming moments. Although it’s not so common, this type of writing demo lesson is amazing. Watching how the Duffers write the script on their laptops while discussing the process is an excellent way to learn.
Therefore, I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to take their screenwriting and storytelling skills to the next level.
And, of course, I would recommend it to Stranger Things fans, especially those wondering what Steve and Dustin’s spin-off would look like.