Film & TV

Choosing a Story

Ron Howard

Lesson time 08:15 min

Ron believes anyone can direct a movie. The key is loving a story, understanding it, and then backing up your instincts with craft. Learn his technique for finding and telling fresh stories that will leave an impact on audiences.

Ron Howard
Teaches Directing
Ron Howard teaches directing, editing, and storytelling in 32 exclusive video lessons.
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It so personal in terms of deciding what movie or television show you're going to work on if you're lucky enough to have options and have choices. For me it's always trying to identify something in an idea that I'm excited about that. It's not an intellectual thing. It's just an emotional thing. I'm reading it. I'm beginning to dream about it. And in a way beginning to see it, and I don't want to let go of that. And that's that inspiration. There's something about that story that you as a creative person just connect with. You want to apply what you have to offer to that. I have to feel that there's something about it that I connect with on an emotional level or that I feel like I can contribute to it. I have to feel that the story offers something to audiences that's fresh, that's thematically interesting, is going to be worthy of their attention, their time, and their money. I think that freshness is very important when you're evaluating your idea because the execution can be outstanding on a character level, , but if it's not presented in some way that feels fresh either through the cinematic approach or the setting, then it's going to be sort of downgraded in people's minds. They're going to feel like well they've kind of seen it before. This is a good version of something else. But what else? In great improv study groups, they always say and. The great teachers will say to the improv artists once they've completed, they'll say, what else? And? And I think that's a great clue for writers and directors as well. If you look at a movie like the first Star Wars, well Joseph Campbell explained you know very well to all of us who were listening that it was a combination of the familiar myths, but it was retold in this way that we just had never really experienced before. And it was so exciting. It made those old myths, those old ideas land in a powerful way, but we were ready to receive them because it was directed in such a brilliant remarkable fresh way. Sometimes the directors come along and find a way to do something traditional and yet you know make it modern. La la land is an example of a classic movie musical structure. Even the approach to the music is traditional and yet the way it's shot, the setting, the characters, the way they talk to each other, you know it feels entirely modern. Well that's a great combination that makes it feel like a very satisfying experience. Because there are those classic themes, those ideas that we do appreciate, we just don't want them presented to us in that same old way. And so that's where storytelling is almost always a combination of something old and something new. And it's the something new that gives it the contemporary relevance that makes it immediate and meaningful to those of us today living in this moment. That's what's so amazing about Shakespeare's writing is directors find wa...

Direct your story

Ron Howard made his first film in 15 days with $300,000. Today, his movies have grossed over $1.8 billion. In his first-ever online directing class, the Oscar-winning director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind decodes his craft like never before. In lessons and on-set workshops, you’ll learn how to evaluate ideas, work with actors, block scenes, and bring your vision to the screen whether it’s a laptop or an IMAX theater.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Most amazing class, I have ever seen, he teaches better than Film School thoery and practical classes.

Thanks Ron Howard for a fantastic class. I'm probably going to have to rewatch it again for some of the technical details, but bravo. Good job. Have a great rest of your summer.

Life gives us stories. Stories give us life. The secret is to find which precipitates the other, then share the experience. Ron's view into the process was honest, informative, and thought provoking ... everything I could have wanted. Thank you Ron & thank you MasterClass.

So many interesting tidbits and new, to me, perspectives. Ron is very articulate. I loved watching him work with the students and with the camera crews in the interactive section


Jean B.

Well, my Mom and I are taking this class together and we completely agree with what Ron Howard says in this lesson. There are so many movies that just take the same story and retell it, but forget to make it fresh. There are only a few directors that take that same "traditional" story, as Ron put it, and give it a fresh take so that audiences feel like they are viewing something new. As for powerful moments, movies like The Post and Steel Magnolias are great examples because they have so many powerful scenes that really stick with you after watching the movie. Loving this class already! He is such a magnificent and amazing person. <3 Gingers gotta stick together ;)

mansfield K.

I don't wish to be one that starts far from my spirit. Brother Ron hits it with his heart and makes the innocent and beautiful truth dazzle all over us. He does it with care. He does it with softness. He does it with concern how it effects us. I'm glad it's important to him. But I truly love how he has made special moments important in his work. It draws me closer to him and I thank him for his way of seeing things. It means I'll have to see more beauty and innocence and somehow get it on screen my way. Alright hombres. Let's saddle up. It's time for us to head into the sunset and settle this wild and untamed imagination growing from the mountains to the oceans of this heare United States of America. Our America. Our beautiful United States of America that we are willing to sacrifice the goodness of our thoughts and ideas and special moments. Mansfield Kauo

Matthew B.

10 Things I Hate About You is a really fun movie. Pretty sure I saw when it was released but 20 years ago now ? RIP Heath The Amazon version has The Taming of the Shrew lined up to watch right after 10 Things Ends.

Daniel C.

Applying everything I learned from writing a screenplay, I found that I didn't apply what makes a screenplay better. With Ron Howard's Masterclass, I've learned how to write a screenplay at a quicker pace. I know grammar, writing lean, and other writing techniques, but I did not know direction and perspective. Character's Logic... InkTip ~ Title : OFF DUTY It took me a MONTH to write because Mr. Howard gave me insight on what to expect from a screenplay.

Sheri T.

Telling the story that has been told before in a new way. Keeping to similar themes from old but making it new and fresh and different. Honing the craft to tell the story and the theme and taste. Takes practice.


wow...this is going to be a great class...I feel like I am sitting with Ron in my living room and simply discussing the play that I am writing...AND gleaning his lifetime of osmotic knowledge from growing up on the learning to swing from Ken Griffey Jr or talk about the QB job with Broadway Joe....thanks Ron... Namaste StanleydelGozo


I have always had several stories to tell, but there is one story that I had to tell. Once I finally got the courage to put it on paper, I have been agonizing over how to get it on screen.

Chris O.

I'm really inspired by this lesson and feel I've conceptually got a map to launch something... all the basic ideas to pull together the story I want to tell. I still need tons on the craft part of this but basic framework just came alive for me. Thanks Ron!

Joseph N.

Hello-this is my first post and my first Masterclass. Excited to be here and to take this class with Mr. Ron Howard. I really liked how Mr. Howard starts his lessons with connecting from the heart. A personal connection. I dont usually have options with what I direct. It comes from the company I work for. But I try to find the personal mission in each story I can latch on to. I often have to sacrifice the connections I want to make to a short deadline, which is tough. I really like what he said about earning a great scene or moment in a project. I will keep that one close. I could see that being an intentional way to direct from the start.

Matthew W.

I really enjoyed the portion where Ron discusses the combination of something old and something being tied to the effectiveness of a good story. I feel like I see this theme a lot in the stories I love.