Arts & Entertainment

Collaboration: Part 1

Ron Howard

Lesson time 14:32 min

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.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

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


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...

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.

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard teaches directing, editing, and storytelling in his exclusive video lessons.

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