How do you match the lo-fi brilliance of Joyce Byers making an Ouija board on her wall with black paint and Christmas lights? Well, if you’re working on the second season of Stranger Things, you create an entire map made of single sheets of paper covering the floor, walls, and ceiling of the house.
“We wanted to harken back to the crazy set piece and the lights, but we wanted to do it in a way that was meaningful and served the story rather than just, ‘Oh we have to do something crazy in the Byers house again,’” said Chris Trujillo, the production designer for the show. “I think it’s a pretty elegant way of achieving that callback to the Christmas lights.”
While Stranger Things 2 upped the ante in terms of visual effects, the set piece that best captured the show’s whimsy and DIY spirit was made with thousands of sheets of paper. In the fourth episode, “Will the Wise,” little Will Byers, channeling the knowledge of the Shadow Monster, begins coloring on sheet after sheet of paper, eventually forming a map of the tunnel system that snakes underneath the town of Hawkins. Although it was a simple idea, the execution itself was grueling. “That was a slightly laborious creative process to arrive at the drawings of the tunnel system,” said Trujillo. “It was an ordeal.”