Film & TV

Collaboration: Part 1

Ron Howard

Lesson time 14:33 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.

Ron Howard
Teaches Directing
Ron Howard teaches directing, editing, and storytelling in 32 exclusive video lessons.
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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...

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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 is a fantastic director and teacher. Thanks!

I I have learned so much from Ron and his process that I know once I apply what I learned i will be a better director.

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When I recover from mindblownitis, I'll try to offer my sincere thanks for allowing me to attend this class. I can't tell you how exciting


Anthony Clark V.

Thus far, my favorite Masterclass. Ron Howard is gifted at getting his ideas across in an insightful yet non demeaning manner. As a college professor, this is the kind of instructor to have.

KathrynElise E.

Very insightful lesson, I appreciate the human approach the Director gave. Allowing some freedom of expression, on many parts seems to make for an Oscar winning performance.

Matt H.

!!!epicJusticeNOW!! why we can't wait, why we can't wait?!!! "Eliminate the source of hate." -by a Nobel winner ~~~ <3 ~~ ! "You were right Pastor were right the whole entire time/you were right all along!" ~true justice is the harvest reaped by peacemakers, from sowing seeds in the Spirit of Peace~ James3:18: <3! They would bomb his house, they did that to him...on three separate occasions...and yet...he would still return to the pulpit on Sunday...and he kept preaching. He was following Jesus the whole entire time. To the T. That's why he deserves his !!!epicJusticeNOW!! For that, the man has my respect forever. In other words, "a terrorist organization bombed MLKjr's house three times...and he kept returning to the pulpit and kept preaching, DIVINE SERMONS, YOU CAN HEAR GOD IN HIS VOICE, the man was Holy, that is blasphemy to do that to a very perfectly innocent man. He's more innocent, he's so innocent that's about as innocent as it gets...against the courts of law. Those were all false charges against ...our dear Brother, Pastor, and friend, Nobel winner, Martin Luther King jr. And they made it all up...because of money(greed), so they lie instead. They shouldn't of thrown the innocent man to jail, at all. ...but, he kept preaching though... DIVINE SERMONS(A Gift Of Love, sermons by Martin Luther King jr, on sale on ) ~~~ <3 ~~ And he kept preaching. For THAT...the man has my respect forever. And God bless him as a SAINT of the Almighty. G :) D. You can hear it in his voice, he was very innocent, and they did it to him anyway. Completely innocent too. And he also kept writing everything down, everyday, his study, the man was a genius. Everything, he studied everything he knew, for total and complete justice, that is absolute and final. how are not African-Americans still Americans, born on U.S. soil? Yes. "All men are created equal." <3 and for that, the man has my re$pect forever. a.k.a. "And for that, Dr are my idol!" . Why We Can't Wait -very important book by Dr. King. His whole book series, he wrote himself...while alive, with people trying to kill him everyday. a.k.a. All books are important, the whole book series shall, and will be called; "Martin Luther King jr's Quest For Justice" "Martin Luther King jr's Quest For Justice" results in ='s !!!epicJusticeNOW!! ...that's why we can't wait. -m

Rodney H.

From what i have learned from seeing movies,is that. mr Ron is right. The story line or the idea has to be emotionally moving . The rest of the movie has to keep people's attention and hold and sustain it in mid air. it has to allow people to be able to relate to EVERYDAY LIFE EXPERIENCES.

Pétainguy M.

Very good part about creative process : - exclusive : people who are focused on their dream and do not consider others' opinion or worst could experience it like an aggression. - inclusive : people capable to integrate others' point of view at any moment to increase their own creativity and productivity. Good choice could be to use the two technics like we do with legs, to walk easier. Thrive is capacity to use opportunities, not to stay fundamentalist ... even if rules and dogmas help. Ways but not goals.

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.