Chapter 2 of 32 from Ron Howard

Choosing a Story

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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

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 22 days with $602,000. Today, his movies have grossed over $1.8 billion. In his first-ever online class, the Oscar-winning director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind decodes the craft of directing 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.

Watch, listen, and learn as Ron Howard breaks down directing in his first-ever online class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Ron will also answer select student questions.

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard Teaches Directing