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Arts & Entertainment

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 his exclusive video lessons.


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Ron is a great teacher. The honesty and passion he has for his craft shines through.

Amazing look into how to direct a crew, be creative and make all parties feel valued. So much more to learn here as well. Love it.

Great and inspiring material was shared, found it really helpful, steered me in my filmmaking process.

I signed up for Masterclass to learn how to write better and to direct. This was the perfect class for what I need to know as a would be writer director producer of indie films. Ron is an outstanding instructor and an awesome director. He was very detailed and the Practice shots were precisely the insight I was looking for. There is a method to his methods and I love it.


Tig F.

As a Stunt Coordinator & Second Unit Director, I do not get to choose my scripts but I do believe in creating fresh takes on storytelling through action whenever/wherever possible. Very often in television, a director will ask us to recreate something that they saw in a feature film. I feel that television need not be derivative and that regardless of the format, we can always create something new - even if the inspiration is something that's old or has already been done.

The H.

Presenting a fresh take. How do you do it if you have a producer that really want you to stick to a script even though you as a director know that it's not fresh?


The fresh way is always difficult. This is where perspective and talent meet.

A fellow student

I have just only started the lessons and throughly enjoying them so far. This is truly eye opening and gives me a jolt of things we subconsciously know about but need a professional to remind us of and how to implement them on the field. Cant wait to get cracking on the rest of the lessons

Levi S.

I was recently let go from my job in production as a "Content Creator" and because of Covid-19 was forced to move in with my parents. At 26. HA. I was hoping to take this class, as an addition to my job, and move forward in my learning and execution. For the past couple of days I have felt more like a failure than ever, and thus I put off these classes. Long story short, I had a "powerful moment" and stopped feeling sorry for myself. I am eager to learn and hopefully engage with anyone that takes these classes. Thank you for letting me be transparent for a moment. Let's rock and roll!

Diana M.

I am blown away by Ron Howard's entire master class not just this final lesson. What a joy to sit with a brilliant film maker generously sharing a lifetime of lessons learned. Ridiculous I know but I feel like I've known Ron Howard since he was a little kid and now he's ALL THIS, and a deeply good human being too. Ron's content just kept coming, with no letup, no lazy thinking, just rich, hard earned lessons one after another. WOW. I was fascinated by Ron's breakdown of the process of making a film. It is a masterclass in itself not just of film making but of how to get anything done -- how to work toward a worthy goal, how to bring others along with you, how to work through the inevitable heartbreak. Brilliant, just brilliant. I will take these lessons and use them as I create my own story every day, looking for moments that are worth telling as a writer and a photographer.


This one truly felt like a Master Class. I like his candor and appreciate the depths he went into to illustrate his insights.

Jonathan P.

I love how he tries to engage us by bringing us in and saying anybody can be a director. Good clickbait lol. For fresh stories he's on point, our attention runs adrift easily. I love how he respects his audience, the truth is anybody who's seen 100 movies in their life is an enthusiast and critic with their own tastes. It's often who you're pitching to.

Aeson R.

Great points and an overall wonderful lesson #1. A simple but compelling breakdown of what to look for as a director. "Look for powerful moments" and "Backup your instincts with craft" are two helpful fundamentals to take away from this.

Tom O.

Class #1 -Choosing a Story -do like Ron's points. In Choosing a story, finding a fresh take, make it personal & build to powerful moments. If you are the writer too, that is what you typically visualize. Thanks to Ron for defining. I also related it to how a singer might take a song & adapt it to their singing style.