From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Choosing a Story

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.

Topics include: Make It Personal • Present a Fresh Take • Look for Powerful Moments • Backup Instinct with Craft


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.

Topics include: Make It Personal • Present a Fresh Take • Look for Powerful Moments • Backup Instinct with Craft

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

Learn More


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.

I've learned many things, but especially been given action steps to think about that I can use in my own filmmaking.

I have an international indie film that I set in motion and this class is a great tool to prepare myself in all aspect of movie making. I LEARNED A LOT!

I learned about rehearsal process and camera angles in particular during the Frost/Nixon staged rehearsal.

Learned more from this Masterclass than the Directing subject in Film School!


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.

Stuart W.

Ron does not delve into this too deeply but he says that you want to "apply what you have to offer" to a story that resonates with you. I think Ron touches on an interesting relationship between director and story: as great as a story may be on its own, the director has the task of bringing their "taste" to tease out its intricacies and enhance it even further. That idea of saying "here's how I can make this story better" seems a much more sincere way of approaching storytelling than saying "how can the story suit my needs as a creative individual?"

Javier D.

I did a short film and now I realised which where the 2 powerful moments! I had in mind the second and final shot. But the previous one wasn't clear for me. Anyway ,went to a dozen international film festivals. However, many problems from a first time rookie! (I'm ashamed now). I should have developed better those 2 or 3 top powerful moments. Right now preparing an indie feature. Have to keep that in mind, Master Howard!

Jonathan G.

Let me know what you guys think about this: It seemed that Ron was essentially saying that to be able to select good stories you need to: 1) Personally and emotionally connect and be invested in that story (After all, from my personal experience, you'll probably be living with it for a while—possibly years). So it needs to be pretty well entrenched in you. ** Question: Have you ever encountered a story, OUTSIDE of those told in visual mediums (i.e. films, TV shows, games, comics, etc.), that deeply connected with you emotionally? What's the first one that comes to mind? 2) Be able to connect to bigger, older ideas that everyone brings with them to a story and then frame those in a new way. Ron essentially alluded to the idea that there are no new stories, just remixes. A big question to ask ourselves when looking at a story seems to be, "Can I remix the story I'm looking at in a creative way that feels enjoyable and new?" ** Question: Which stories can you think of that have done this successfully? 3) Be able to recognize a moment or moments that the whole story centers around (What's the point?), and then be able to work through the story's struggle to get to that moment in a way that feels like you "earned it". ** Question: Have you ever found that the greater and longer the struggle, the greater the reward? Do you have an example of this in your own life? 4) Be able to deliver on what you see and recognize. Ron also seemed to be saying that you essentially need to be looking at a story through the lens of not only an artist, but—in a way—an entrepreneur. Be able to recognize what stories people could be hungry for or will be hungry for and that will connect with them. ** Question: What did you guys think, when Ron said, “you can’t really teach taste”? To me he seemed to say that “I’m going to teach you craft, but craft alone won’t make you successful.” Taste, understanding the time you live in and knowing when something could be good and why it may be good (what people will connect with), is what will make you successful in the end. His goal is to teach what he can, craft, and the rest is really up to your natural gifts. If that’s what he’s actually saying, it’s a great expectation to set for the results of the class, do you think?

Mitchell Z.

I really like the idea the 3-7 big scenes happening AND THEN building up to those scenes. The idea of almost guiding the audience through the rollercoaster. Also, the idea of making it something you love and making sure it's something the audience will love is key.

Anson H.

Passion. Makes a huuuuuuuge difference. And that "fresh" look or perspective makes so much sense when I sit and recollect some opinions I have on various movies/features/documentaries I've seen.

Launa B.

Understanding how you think and approach a story, what you look for to stay inspired during the process, is giving me inspiration. Thank you!


I have learned that having a good story isn't enough. We have to make it personal then back up our instincts and taste with craft. This will make the story immediate & meaningful.

J. Andres B.

I disagree a bit with the way the PDF phrased Ron's comments about Star Wars. George Lucas' story isn't a retelling of the Narrative Structure. If it was, under those circumstances every single movie ever is a retelling of the narrative structure. Or at the very least, the majority. What Ron meant was that, the myths and legends of old that we grow up learning about are retold through Star Wars's and Luke Skywalker's story. For instance, the hero with a great destiny is a myth of old retold through Luke's journey towards becoming a Jedi Master.