Arts & Entertainment

Collaboration: Part 2

Ron Howard

Lesson time 11:32 min

While collaboration is central to Ron’s process, he warns against directing by committee. Directors need to have the confidence to hear everyone, but listen to themselves.

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Topics include: Apollo 13 Collaboration • A Collaborative SOS • Mine Collaborative Brain Power • Hear Everyone But Listen to Yourself


Apollo 13 was a project that it was easy to fall in love. With we all became very passionate about it. One of the real champions of the verisimilitude, the honesty, the seeking the truth in the story was Tom Hanks who loved the space program. The initial screenplay was very entertaining, but there were some situations, some scenes, where things were sort of combined, slightly exaggerated for drama. And Tom would always say, why are we doing that? Is that really what happened? And I actually wrote on the cover of my script finally to tell the truth. Just show it. Because I began to trust that. And it was really the first time that I developed that trust in the ideas. And it was the first time I worked on a story that was based on real events. But again, one of the great triangles was in fact Dave Scott who was an Apollo veteran and an ex-commander who was our technical advisor. Tom Hanks and myself simply sitting with transcripts, and Tom wanted to understand as a commander what these various procedures might mean. And we wound up getting so much suspense and gaining so much drama simply by going through a process that began as sort of a technical understanding of a procedure. And wound up turning into a character moment, a moment of decision, a moment of suspense, that I was able to identify and do something with that would inform the camerawork, would inform the editing. But it would come out of these quiet three way conversations that were more informational than creative. And yet I think every conversation you have around the problem solving of a movie or a television show is ultimately a creative conversation. It was an important moment where I really availed myself of some relationships that I was lucky enough to have as a director, and I was timid about it at first. But I was going into a Beautiful Mind. It was the most serious movie that I'd made at that point in my career. And I had done a lot of rehearsing and preparing of movies. I loved to stage. I loved to rehearse ahead of time. But they generally were lighter movies or a little more action oriented. And it wasn't so much about mining these deep psychological minefields and these troubles, and setting the stage for triumphs that were supposed to be monumental for the character and for the audience, but in fact were small, small things. And we were about to begin rehearsals, and I decided that I would call on some people I really admired who I knew just enough to be able to send a call out, kind of an SOS of sorts. And it was a Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols, and Sidney Lumet. And they're three directors whose dramatic work I admired. And I knew them well enough to call them. And they had three very different ideas for me in terms of going into this rehearsal period. I said how do you approach it? Mike Nichols said, I try to, in addition to working out the problems of...

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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