Film & TV


Ron Howard

Lesson time 19:34 min

Ron thinks about cinematic choices almost like a character in the movie. Learn how lighting, lenses, and stylistic choices can add visual power to your film.

Ron Howard
Teaches Directing
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I've never been a director who wants to put a personal stamp on a project based on a look or an aesthetic. I've always thought of myself, more like a-- I guess the way an actor understands a character and tries to inhabit that character. I want to understand the character of a movie and sort of inhabit it as a director and try to fulfill the possibilities that I think are most appropriate. Now, of course, my personality, my taste, it's going to influence movies in similar ways. And I try not to work in opposition of that. But I like to try to understand a movie and let it begin to talk to me. I like to begin to understand what's visually possible and what would most reflect, I suppose, the themes, the story. It always keeps coming back to me, to supporting those ideas. What's it about? What's it trying to convey? And how is it supposed to transport the audience? How is it supposed to feel? And then begin to understand what sort of visual style will enhance that. How will it help us understand the characters? How will it help engage the audience? There's a kind of an ironic thing that happens, that suddenly you're going to hear a lot more about that subject. So now I'm thinking about becoming a doctor, and suddenly there's a great documentary about what it means to be an ER doctor. And oh, look at this. I'm really noticing that those people over at Starbucks, they're nurses. And I think I see a doctor over there, and they're talking. And maybe I'll go up and just talk to them about what med school they went to. It's all-- boy, this is amazing. Suddenly everywhere I look, it's all about medicine and doctors. Well, it's just that your antenna is tuned. My sense of this is that that information has always been there, but now you've focused your train of thought. I think as a director, you have the opportunity to do the same thing, to begin to focus on your subject. And you'll be amazed how many ideas can start flooding your way. And a lot of that comes to you as visual language. And it's great to start taking notes. You see a photograph. Pull it out-- well, if you can. If you already own the magazine, pull it out. Collect it. Give yourself something to talk about, to think about, to dream about, and just begin the process of understanding what that movie could be. At least that's how I like to work. And I never have any interest in having a particular kind of shot that I always do to start the movie or end the movie-- no signatures like that. For me, it's about a story finding its proper voice, its existence within the medium of cinema. A lot of what we perceive in life has to do with light. Bright shafts, stark backlight, so that things are a little bit muddled. Distance is often about-- the way the optics work is you start to lose detail and the light isn't registering with you on a distant figu...

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.

So patient, to descriptive. Ron Howard presented an excellent Masterclass.

I have learned so much. Ron went through so many details and examples that made it so much easier to understand and learn the art of filmmaking. He also validated a lot experiences I've had on the set. And now I feel a lot more confident about going out and making films. I can't thank Ron enough for sharing his knowledge and experience.

Very inspiring and thoughtful contents. As a beginner filmmaker, I think I learned a lot and got some confidence to make some film!

Seeing theory put to practice, amazing! Ron's humility and passion was so helpful and he is a great teacher.


Mal D.

Images and 'movie clips' to illustrate what he is talking about is sorely missing from a section called 'Cinematography'

svetlana Y.

So true about fluidity and being flexible when working with a cinematographer. One of the reasons I love hand held camera, everything is much more organic when you are movable.

Matt H.

In my studio lab. That is robot Alicia Keys. We practice singing and acting all day. Both children of the 80's...

Pétainguy M.

Page 17 / line 4 is a mistake : "the" is repeated two times. Nice course. Really great. Could add some video extracts to illustrate.

John H.

I agree with the comments that there should be clips included to help us better understand


Getting 0 Visual representation when talking about Cinematography really hurts the quality of the lesson.


Nice to know that technology is changing some ways movies are made if it is for the better. Good information, but on some level, I felt like I was wearing a blind fold, trying to imagine what was on the screen.

A fellow student

Yes, it would have been to our advantage to see examples of use of light and cinematography.. Perhaps, there were legal issues but several of the other teachers had examples to share.

J'nee H.

Great advice but especially here where you are talking about the cinematography- visual examples would be nice to illustrate some of the lighting or lens differences.

Chad E.

All very useful information. Limitations, Financial or otherwise, can lead to some very creative solutions. There is still a great deal to be discovered in film making.