From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Collaboration: Part 1

Learn Ron’s policy for collaborating on a movie and how working in groups of three can bring out the best in a creative team.

Topics include: Revel in Collaboration • Engage with Department Heads • Work in Threes • A Beautiful Mind Collaboration


Learn Ron’s policy for collaborating on a movie and how working in groups of three can bring out the best in a creative team.

Topics include: Revel in Collaboration • Engage with Department Heads • Work in Threes • A Beautiful Mind Collaboration

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

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Directors are meant to sort of dream the movie, or the episode, or the short film, or whatever it is, and visualize it, hear it and it's all valuable. That's a level of preparation that's important. And that's also a great sort of foundation, but I have discovered that if you try to enforce that too rigidly, you're losing all the spontaneity and that sort of organic creativity that the people around you have to offer. Coming to that understanding was the beginning of a rule that I just simply call the six of one rule-- six of one, half a dozen of another. And that is, I believe that when you're working with-- whether it's a cinematographer, an actor, a writer, a composer, production designer-- you know, any of the key creative collaborators on a project-- that your job as the storyteller, as the director-- is like you're the keeper of the story. Your taste is ultimately what's going to guide the production, the editing, and the outcome. But if someone comes up with a suggestion-- some talented person that you've come to respect. You respect them enough to hire them. And they come to you with a suggestion that they understand on an intuitive level, on an organic level-- if that choice still achieves the objective-- super objective-- of the scene or the moment in the story, then it's much better to let that person use their choice. And it accomplishes two important things. And my work really improved when I began to understand this. First, it invests those talented people in the project in a very important way. The other thing is it develops a kind of a trust. It's much easier to edit people's ideas and say no, and not have them be frustrated, angry, and close down on you, but instead respect your thinking. Because they know you're more than willing to say yes. When talented people know that you're more than willing to say yes to their suggestions, they are also more sanguine about accepting a no. In fact, they like it. It's liberating because then they don't have to really edit their ideas with a sort of, god forbid he uses it and it doesn't work. That's gone. That's no longer in the mix. Instead they're free to sort of have this dialogue going with you-- the director-- and they're excited about the fact that you can edit. That you can exercise that responsibility that you have to make those choices for them. My work improved. Now, there are great directors that don't operate that way. You know, Charlie Chaplin didn't listen to anyone. Kubrick was not much of a listener. There are others who really-- they have a vision and they follow it. That's completely valid. It just doesn't happen to be the way I work. I revel in the excitement of the collaboration. I think it provides all of us-- not just me-- with a kind of creative safety net, but more than that it just it energizes a set in a great way. Sometimes it threatens your s...

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.

This has been the most practical of the filmmaking MasterClasses I've taken on the site so far, and it helped that Ron Howard is an engaging personality who communicates very clearly and effectively. I feel that I learned a lot.

This was a hugely informative class - thank you! There's usually a "behind the scenes" featurette created for major films. I'd love to see Ron's Masterclass #2 that's actually shot along with a feature film he's directing - maybe taking 5-10 min. every few days to talk about problems encountered and solved, or great serendipitous moments recognized.

I have followed Ron Howard as a child actor and director. He was amazing! One major thing I learned is that, regardless if you are a professional or just starting out, the challenges will always be with us. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

I have read many books on filmmaking, but I really needed a to see a director in action. The class is very educating and the price very affordable. I highly recommend it.


Blu L.

Please feel free to find me on Instagram: @oscarasiliezar or for collaborations. Wishing you all the greatest adventures in filmmaking.


Yes. I love Kurosawa’s idea of working in threes. Seven Samurai was particularly written in such way, and also the only one written in such way. Kurosawa and his two co-writers locked themselves in a hotel room to write the scripts for weeks, completely isolated from their families, friends and the society. Each of them would write a same single scene at the same time, in each own versions, and keep the details from each other like secrets. It’s only when a scene was done, they would finally read each other’s scripts to compare which would be the best. The best one would be used as the main plot. Then the exciting/intriguing/breathtaking moments from the other two scripts would be taken out and added to the main plot. After that they’d then continue to the next scene, and repeat it through out the whole writing process. What a great method to creat a story! But Kurosawa thought it was a exhausting way to write and was not willing to do that again. Shinobu Hashimoto, the main writer of Seven Samurai, considered that it was why Kurosawa never created another masterpiece greater than Seven Samurai. I read this interesting anecdote from “Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I” by Shinobu Hashimoto.

Claudia M.

It is helpful to be reminded that the screenplay that you pitch will not by the end all be all of your project. There will be MANY more professional inputs(writers, lighting experts, etc.) that will refine and perfect it once it gets picked up. Don't stress out that you can't comprehend every perfect detail on your own.

J'nee H.

He does his research and it shows. Fascinating window in to his process. I'm revel in the collaboration too.

Joseph N.

Many brains are better than one. Great points here-inspired to work with a team. Shared goals reached lift you higher than when its just you alone.

Javier D.

Great! Very interesting the concept of working in threes! I usually work with my D.P. But I think I should enclose another creative.

Susan T.

I am enjoying this MC immensely having followed Ron's career since Lassie... a kindred spirit and worked in the film/television industry since 1970s. Ron has always been an inspiration and his films have been some of my favourites. In my early years, movies about the making of movies were most engaging, as I have had dreams and visions of Directing a film on the Revelations of Earth and coming Apocalypse.

A fellow student

Listening and collaborate with people will make the your film production easier, greater and exciting. Lesson learned. Thanks Mr. Howard.

Anson H.

I think there is a myth that you have to formulate a crew that you're always gonna work; where the personnel will always be the same group of people. The more I'm hearing from Ron I'm learning that directors/producers have to be adaptable individuals, that have to be able to communicate, work with, trust and bring the best out of various different people throughout their careers.

Launa B.

I am inspired at how open an aware Ron Howard is about the importance of the collaboration process. Each is a piece of the puzzle that makes the whole. Thank you! I wish the pdf's were available to these videos. The first 4 were downloadable, and the rest gave error messages when I tried to download.