Newburgh native Justin Doble believes that one of the things that helped him land a job writing and producing for the Netflix smash hit “Stranger Things” was the fact that he grew up in Stephen King country. The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, are self-admitted King junkies and Doble, 32, decided to lead with that connection when he first met them.
“In one of our first meetings I told them about the fact that he taught at my high school when he was writing ‘Carrie,’ and that I used to work at Shaw’s and Miller Drug and would see him around there all the time,” said Doble. “I think that helped me get my foot in the door.”
Doble, a 2003 graduate of Hampden Academy who now lives in Los Angeles, has been a producer on both seasons of “Stranger Things,” and has written four episodes of the show, more than any other writer beside the Duffer brothers themselves. Buoyed by the show’s success, in September he signed a development deal with Amazon Studios to produce content exclusively for Prime Video.
But before he began working in television, Doble was a kid growing up in Newburgh, the son of Terry Bryant and Chris Doble, both of whom still live in Maine. Doble was raised on a diet of movies and music, both of which he loved, and upon graduating from high school, he decided to move to California — initially, to pursue a career in music.
After enrolling in the University of Southern California’s music program, he quickly realized it was not the career for him. Since he was in California already, he decided to pivot to film and TV. Luckily, he had an in. Katie McGrath, wife of Hollywood super producer J.J. Abrams, is a Brewer native and a friend to Doble’s family, and helped secure him an internship at Bad Robot, her husband’s production company.
From there, the opportunities began presenting themselves, including working on Abrams’ 2008 movie “Cloverfield,” and various jobs on Abrams’ Fox TV series “Fringe,” eventually resulting in his writing for the show and getting representation as a screenwriter. He’s also worked on Hulu’s “The Path” and AMC’s “Into the Badlands.”
“‘Fringe’ is what got me sucked into the sci-fi world, and what really launched my career,” said Doble. “Eventually I got a call from [producer] Dan Cohen, who offered me this script to read, which was ‘Stranger Things.’ I loved it immediately.”
Doble believes that he and the Duffer brothers connected for a number of reasons, not least because they shared a love of many of the inspirations behind “Stranger Things.” That includes the small town world of Hawkins, Indiana — a world that’s not too far off from Doble’s roots in the Bangor region.
“We’re about the same age. We all grew up loving Steven Spielberg movies and summer blockbusters,” said Doble. “I think, having grown up in a small town, I get Hawkins. I know that kind of close knit community, and that kind of close knit group of friends that does everything together, gets in trouble together. I know that world.”
A third season of “Stranger Things” is confirmed, though no release date has been set. Meanwhile, Doble is busy with his Amazon Studios development deal. He’s not at liberty to speak about it in detail, but the said he’s excited.
“If you make a list of all the best sci-fi novels of all time, they own the rights to a lot of them,” said Doble. “It’s extremely daunting, but also super, super exciting.”