Christopher Garetano interview: What lies beneath Strange World

Christopher Garetano as seen on Travel Channel's Strange World.
Christopher Garetano as seen on Travel Channel's Strange World. /
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Christopher Garetano
Host Christopher Garetano discussing the Mount Shasta disappearances with Sheriff Jon Lopey, as seen on Travel Channel’s Strange World. /

Stranger Worlds Collide

1428 Elm: Montauk Chronicles inspired Stranger Things. How did that come about? Did the Duffer Brothers approach you?

CG: What happened was way, way back before Stranger Things was a twinkle before it was even thought of before the Duffers made Wayward Pines, I made two versions of Montauk Chronicles. So, Huffington Post AOL did an interview with me where they were showing scenes of the first version of Montauk Chronicles.

That went out to millions of people it was on Huffington Post, AOL, Weird News…it was the first press I was getting and it brought so much attention my way. And also, a lot of attention to the idea of the Montauk Project.

It was still obscure! That book was out for 20 years from an independent publisher. It wasn’t in bookstores; it wasn’t well known at the time that I finished the first version of Montauk Chronicles.

So, in 2011, I had the very first screening. When was the first episode of Stranger Things? Much later. It was way back to 2009 that Huffington Post did that piece on me.

That’s when I started to get exposure and that is where I believe it was first seen. There are a lot of scenes and aesthetic ideas, of course I’m not taking credit for Stranger Things. I have nothing to do with it outside of my work being exposed and someone saying, “Oh. That’s interesting.”

Christopher Garetano (Cont.): Because honestly, the Montauk Project never had any visual representation. And the Jack Pruitt character wasn’t even mentioned in those books. He was mentioned in my movie. So, Matthew Modine (Martin Brenner on Stranger Things) all of that stuff was lightly inspired by ideas in my film for sure.

If I was the only person that thought so but I’m not. Stranger Things programming scenes in Season 2 are identical to the programming sequence in my film. There is no other film that does that. That was original to my movie.

I’m not the type that goes to sue people unless it is really severe. If I was involved with them and they saw my script years before, that would be a different story.

But that’s not what happened. I’ve never claimed that in the press. Its one of those things. I was the first person to bring the Montauk Project out into the world as an entertainment piece.

Only before that there was some really crude interviews that no one really cared about. Nothing was visually illustrated.

Christopher Garetano
Host Christopher Garetano entering into James Dean’s vintage RV on display with Brian Grahams at the Volo Auto Mueseum outside of Chicago, IL, as seen on Travels Channel’s Strange World /

Enter the Dark Files

1428 Elm: Let’s go back to the Dark Files. You did that 2 years after Montauk Chronicles. I know that Texas Crew was the production company behind it. Did the idea for Strange World start at that time because they produce your current show?

Christopher Garetano: No. They saw all my stuff from Montauk Chronicles and they wanted to do something with me. That time period in between when they first contacted me was 2014. They reached out to me in December of that year.

We didn’t end up making the Dark Files until 2 years later. It was a long development period. It switched hands. I went and shot a pilot with a different company that was supposed to be based on the Montauk Project but ended up being something else.

I’m glad that pilot didn’t work out because it was a terrible show. I had a bad experience with those people. They wanted to fake everything. That’s not me.

Christopher Garetano (Cont.): Luckily, it reverted back to Texas Crew. They’re great guys. So, what happened is we did The Dark Files with the hopes to do more specials or a series. And then it kind of fizzled out and I was on my own.

They came back and Travel Channel expressed interest in working with me on something. And I said give me 2 months and I am going to show you what I really want to do. And that was Strange World which was forged by me alone in my home office. I brought that to Texas Crew.

I did present all of the original ideas, the DNA for Strange World. Everything was designed by me in the beginning. But then it became this enormous collaboration and Texas Crew worked very hard with me to make it.

Before that, I did establish what the show was going to be. It’s variety, its personal attachment to these things, its style, Strange World has a different style than other shows.