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4 facts about the film school that groomed ‘Stranger Things’ creators Duffer Brothers for success

duffer brothers
Actress Natalia Dyer (centre) with Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers at the 17th annual AFI Awards at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

If you are an avid fan of “Stranger Things”, you might recognise this name: the Duffer Brothers. As producers of the award-winning science fiction and horror drama Netflix series, Matt and Ross Duffer have created something special. According to Netflix’s Top 10 rankings, the show fourth’s season achieved a view time of 287 million hours during the week it premiered on Netflix, reported Variety.

With how popular the show has become, you may wonder: what goes into the minds of these producers when they are producing one of Netflix’s biggest hits? As graduates of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University (Dodge College), the brothers were surprised at how quickly they transitioned from film school to working in the industry —courtesy of the college’s philosophy of providing real-world experience.

Driving an industry-based learning experience, here are four interesting facts about the film that housed the Duffer Brothers:

duffer brothers

When the Duffer Brothers first pitched “Stranger Things” to industry executives, no one believed that an 80s setting with children in it would become a hit — but it did. Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

The Californian film school that housed the Duffer Brothers

1. Dodge College provides a practical learning experience from the start

The college offers an extensive lineup of undergraduate and graduate programmes for aspiring filmmakers to ensure students get an immersive learning experience. For the film production alumni, the Duffers value the opportunity to work closely with each other, which was a “deal-breaker” for them.

“We don’t even know how we work alone. We started making movies in the third grade. That’s how we developed, as a team. I didn’t really have any interest in developing my skills separate from him,” said Matt Duffer in an interview with the Wrap.

The college did not only provide the Duffer brothers with an opportunity to collaborate closely with one another, but they also offered the duo a practical learning experience from the go. As a film student, Matt recalled how he got his camera “right away” and mastered Avid, a tool for content creators, within his first two weeks in film school.

2. The Chapman Masterclass allow students to learn from industry leaders

Many celebrities and big names in the entertainment industry are part of an exciting lineup of teachers at the Chapman Masterclass. It demonstrates Dodge College’s commitment to connecting students with industry professionals and is part of the student experience at Dodge College, said its website.

Among the long list of celebrities who participated as teachers in the Chapman Masterclass include Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe, Denis Villeneuve, who directed “Blade Runner 2049”, and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan, who is also a two-time Emmy Award winner.

For the film production graduates, they contributed back to their alma mater by teaching a master class session in 2017, where they offered advice and insights to students on navigating the challenges of entering the film industry. If you want to watch this session, you can binge the whole thing on Youtube — and it’s free! 

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Dodge College provides a doorway for students to some of the biggest opportunities in Hollywood — like interning in NBC, America’s national broadcast television and radio network. Source: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

3. Dodge College offers industry internship opportunities

Located near Hollywood, the college offers unique internship opportunities in the film industry with the connections made through the faculty, alumni and academic staff — allowing film students to gain a wholesome internship experience at companies such as CBS, NBC, Lionsgate, Warner Bros and many more.

For the brothers, they saw this as an opportunity to build new connections, gain industry connections and acquire solid experience to make them into bold visionaries. That’s why they chose to split up and intern at different companies as they wanted to make separate connections, a traditional way to divide and conquer, which ultimately paid off.

“We made separate connections. And we were writing scripts, too, so by the end of senior year we gave our scripts to everyone we made connections with. And one of them, Franklin Leonard, who worked at Leonardo DiCaprio’s company, read our script and got us our agent,” said Ross.

4. Chapman University is home to a vibrant international student community

According to their website, approximately five percent of Chapman University students are international and come from around 80 countries. Plus, you can learn more about Dodge College and Chapman University even before setting foot in the US through one of the many Virtual International Student Events.

To smoothen the transition into studying abroad, the university connects you with their international student ambassadors to discover more about life at Chapman or doubts and questions you may have about a particular course — where you can also talk to current students at Dodge College.

“When I was applying, I was a little nervous about making the move to Orange. I emailed my admission counsellor and she put me in contact with Chapman students who grew up in Taiwan and went to my high school,” explained Melissa Cho, a 2021 graduate of Chapman’s film school, in the university’s student blog.

“Talking to them calmed my nerves because I was able to hear about the real experience of an international student at Chapman.”