As a pitch deck designer, I am always on the lookout for great examples of decks, especially those that have then gone on to be made into successful projects. And since it was released a few years back, the deck for ‘Montauk’ – better known to most of us under its eventual title ‘Stranger Things’ – has emerged for a lot of us as the gold standard.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer before we go any further: ‘Montauk’ isn’t quite a classic pitch deck. It doesn’t include some of the more traditional elements of pitch decks such as a logline, budget and the creative team. It’s been described variously as a pitch deck, a show bible and a lookbook but the reality is it’s a bit of a hybrid – something that is becoming a lot more common these days as the ‘rules’ become less rigid and creators tailor their pitches to suit the work, rather than the other way around. 

But whatever we choose to call it, there’s no denying ‘Montauk’’s impact. Still, what makes it so powerful? Below, I break down just why and how the ‘Montauk’ deck works so effectively.


The ‘Montauk’ deck completely immerses you in its world by fully committing to its style choice. Embracing a retro eighties feel borrowed from a battered old copy of Stephen King’s ‘Firestarter’, its presentation is framed as a literal book complete with an ISBN and barcode at the back. ‘Inside’, we see the opposite of the slick, glossy vibe of a lot of pitch decks – the pages are faded, creased and stained. As well as setting it apart from the rest, this approach makes it easy to imagine the story as something that already exists and consequently, to buy into.


Montauk’’s tone is incredibly nostalgic, but it is careful with how it uses its references so as not to break the illusion it creates. It builds in similar work as if they are part of the book, rather than featuring them as ‘comps’ (comparable films/shows). Interestingly, ‘Montauk’ doesn’t actually use comps in the true sense as all of their references are from the 1980s as such not really comparable in terms of box office and audience demographics.

The deck also cleverly taps into our sense of nostalgia by directly inviting us to imagine some of the most iconic moments in cinema from the time period, for example “Elliot approaches a fog-drenched shed in E.T.” Our reaction to this is emotional and instinctive – creating a longing to return how you felt watching this moment as a child (assuming you are part of the target demographic) and subsequently a desire to watch this show. 


The mythology of the world is central to the conflicts that we encounter in the the series and the Duffer Brothers acknowledge this by spending a whole page setting up the background to the show with “The ‘Montauk Project’ Conspiracy”.  This sets the wheels of the story in motion by giving us a taster of what we will see in the show and has us asking ourselves the question: ‘how will this play out?’ 

High end

The project positions itself throughout the deck as high end in both overt and subtle ways. From using imagery from hugely successful films (implying a good financial return) to proposing big name actors that could be attracted to the main adult roles to describing the filmic structure of the series (as opposed to a more episodic ‘ongoing drama’ feel) – everything about the presentation indicates that the project will be expensive but (importantly) worth it.

The future

Everyone is looking for fantastic IP these days, and the Duffer Brothers definitely understood that. Even though they pitched ‘Montauk’ as a standalone 8 part tale, they make a point of mentioning its franchise potential. 

They actually originally suggested revisiting the characters ten years on in the 1990s (similar to the kids storyline in Stephen King’s IT), instead of back in the 80s but regardless – in just a few sentences – they signal that they have more story to tell and reveal that they are open to telling it.

Check out the full deck here!

What do you think of ‘Montauk’ deck? Do you think it captured the series? Would you have bought into it as a studio exec? There’s a few interesting changes between it and the eventual series – how do you think it could have been different? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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