×

‘Stranger Things’ Editor Talks About the ‘Very Collaborative’ Duffer Brothers Set

First-time Emmy nominee for his work on “Stranger Things,” editor Dean Zimmerman grew up immersed not just in Hollywood but also in the specific career path of editing, thanks to his father, the Oscar-nominated Don Zimmerman. Being in that environment from such a young age, Zimmerman was able to learn about a variety of genres and watch the industry change with emerging technology, which helped lead him to such big-budget features as “Rush Hour 3” and the “Night at the Museum” franchise before turning his attention to TV. “I owe everything to my father,” Zimmerman says. “He has been very blessed to have worked really hard and become as big as he is, and my influence is 100% him. He taught me everything I know, and I credit everything to him.”

Coming from the world of feature films, what made you want to make the jump to the smaller screen with a project like “Stranger Things?”

I was looking for something with a little more of a slower pace than what I had been doing. A very good friend of mine gave me the pilot script, and I read it, and I gravitated toward it. It stirred the nostalgia within me. It felt like a lot of moments from movies that I loved growing up, and I felt it could be something fun.

What were your expectations for the show once you started working on it?

When we started to shoot the series, it all became very clear that we had something special. The kids were really incredible and were bringing performances that were unexpected. I think as we all were heading down this road of finishing episodes and seeing more and more come, we were realizing we had something special.

What was the collaboration like to create the tone and all-important transitions between worlds on the show?

When we started, the Duffers wanted to these Edgar Wright-esque big sound transitions and building big moments, but then cutting to something quiet. So we took that idea and ran with it. As they were shooting we would go to the set, and we would offer some opinions and suggestions and shot ideas, and they were so welcoming for any kind of suggestion. It was very collaborative.

What is one thing your work as an editor requires that you think gets overlooked, or that most people just don’t know?

My father, who’s been in the business forever and has been my mentor and my teacher, describes it like this: A project is a wagon wheel, and we’re the hub. Every spoke leads to us. So, I think the biggest thing for me is just how much we do and what we’re responsible for: making sure the color is perfect, the dialogue is perfect; there’s so many aspects, especially on this series with how fast the Duffers wanted the series to be paced but still have moments where scenes get to play out with dramatic pauses. Those balances are incredibly important. And at the same time, giving the sound team a template, combining elements of different pieces of music to craft the ultimate score, and then also the amount of visual effects we had.

Speaking of visual effects, what extra challenges did they pose on the show?

How many of those shots we could use in a certain scene. Those numbers are all preconceived until you get the actual footage and see what’s what. It was about being very smart in the usage of them. If you can have something that doesn’t necessarily have visual effects, that may have a greater impact. It was walking that delicate balance and being responsible and using them so that they were more of an asset than a crutch.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • YouTube logo

    BBC Studios to Explore 'The Edge of Science' for YouTube Originals

    The BBC’s production division, BBC Studios, has won its first YouTube Originals commission, “The Edge of Science.” Starring presenter and science enthusiast Rick Edwards and YouTuber Colin Furze, “The Edge of Science” will carry out a range of stunts and experiments to explore if it’s possible to levitate. The presenters will meet the scientists behind [...]

  • Kirsten Dunst'On Becoming a God in

    Kirsten Dunst Talks 'Little Women,' 'Interview With a Vampire' Reboots

    Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she skyrocketed into stardom as Claudia in “Interview with a Vampire,” but now Dunst says her age is the only thing keeping her from reprising the role in a hypothetical reboot. “I mean I’m too old, right?,” she told Variety at the premiere of “On Becoming a God [...]

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content