From Ron Howard's MasterClass


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.

Topics include: Let the Movie Talk to You • Use Light as a Character • Experiment with Lenses • Mix the Medium • Learn from Hobbyists • Borrow From Documentaries


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.

Topics include: Let the Movie Talk to You • Use Light as a Character • Experiment with Lenses • Mix the Medium • Learn from Hobbyists • Borrow From Documentaries

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

Learn More


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.

I really enjoy this first MasterClass that I just took. I look forward to taking the other ones soon. Thanks for putting this website together. It's an amazing learning experience, especially for a very busy mom with two kids.

This was by far the best masterclass i have taken, you can tell that Ron truly enjoyed doing it and I learned so much.

This was amazing. I learned so much. Presented in an easy to understand easy to watch, easy to listen to, casual yet informative style. If you are wanting to what it is that make a great movie great, this is for you.

This Masterclass has helped grasp the viewpoint of being a director and I've learned different styles and perspectives for shooting a scene.



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.

Sophia T.

Every statement is so profoundly substancial, that I really need to tune in carefully. He uses no verbal fillers, which makes all his wisdom in every lession feel really condensed. Such a pleasure to listen to him! Same with David Lynch, huge level of awareness! Totally blissed out. :-)

Pirsigs J.

Ron really speaks from the heart and I do understand what he is saying. His Masterclass would be truly masterful if there were, at least some, visual examples to accompany his vast experience to us newbies. Werner Herzog used some visuals from his movies making it his class more like being in a class setting. My deduction for the reason why there are no sample clips has to do with Masterclass having to pay for said clips making the cost of this class nearly prohibitive?

A fellow student

Average. I wanted to know more specific about lenses & lighting. He rightly said that you tube cn give this much info.

Launa B.

Allowing the light to become a character, and working with the light you have, instead of making it into what you need, is what many low budget film makers learn right away. Be efficient with the time and the available resources you have. Many good insights and ideas here Mr. Howard, thank you!

Hossam L H.

That's amazing i have learned few tips and tricks, in Egypt its kind of the same like European DOPs . Egyptian DOPs work with light we don't control it. however when the director has a certain vision while the actor and the producer and of course the cinematographer approves. They might take up to half a day or more for lighting one scene, however i like natural looking lighting specially if you're not working on a fantasy or a CG driven movie. Ron, i love how you're passing on all your different experiences (even little tips like the David Fincher one) to us in a super friendly easy very easy to grasp way. HOSS Egyptian/British Actor and Director