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Arts & Entertainment

Frost/Nixon: Steadicam Staging for Frost POV

Ron Howard

Lesson time 8:19 min

Ron shows you an alternative approach he could have tried in the film: using a Steadicam to shoot from David Frost’s point of view.

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


What I want to do now is something that is an experiment. It might be the kind of thing that would be really interesting and work on its own entirely. Or it might be something that you could choose to intercut with the Steadicam version. And it's basically to play the scene from David Frost's point of view. He's the guy who's feeling the heat. So we're going to begin with a close up on you coming through. And that'll also teach our Steadicam operator the staging, where you're looking, what you're reacting to. And we'll do a take or two of that. And then, we'll do the point of view, and you guys will actually look at the camera. And you'll just stand behind and feed the dialogue. OK? So we'll start on your close up. Word. Ready? So if you can't get all the way over to the wall, just fake it because we're very tight. So we don't really see your hands. OK? Should we try it? Yeah. Yes. And action. What revolution, David? You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution. with protesters bombing and assaulting police officers. That's not what I remember. What I remember is people protesting peacefully and legitimately against the Vietnam War. That's what I remember. Music off, please. Music off. By the end-- Let's do it one more time. Why don't you come into here so you do see those guys in the background? Could you maybe just-- yeah, there you go. OK. Great. Yeah, you cheated a little bit over. Let's try one more. It's always interesting. But every time you change a lens-- not every time, but almost every time, there's some accommodation that the actors need to make, as you guys know. We're so used to doing it we don't even think about it. Right. It's a good example of it. Ready? Yeah, because if you can get in a position where you have them, then when we're in his point of view, we can actually be doing the insert of whatever he's doing. Which he's faking right now, but pouring something-- OK, Here we go. Is this a good general distance for you, one more time? Is that a good distance for you? Yeah-- Try to maintain this the whole time then? You could be a little closer. Is this good? Yeah, something like that to intercut with the POV. Ready, and action. What revolution, David? You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution with protesters bombing and assaulting police officers. That's not how I remember it. What I remember is people protesting peacefully and legitimately against the Vietnam War. That's what I remember. Music off, please. Music off. By the end, wiretapping students and breaking into journalists homes. You made it sound like that was a rational response. Well, I'm sorry you feel this way. I simply cannot share your view. About what? Abo...

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.


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

Great insights into techniques and processes that will help me grow as a producer and director. Looking forward to taking additional classes that will round-out my education and film making skill set. Thanks so much!!!!

This was great! I've made a film that had some theatrical release and still I learned so much. Ron had a great and enthusiastic mannerism and you could tell he was enjoying teaching. I took away many solid ideas about honing the craft. Well done.

What a special opportunity to learn from Ron. His warm and candid style is the best! And a treat to watch the Frost/Nixon sessions!

Well I didn't attend any of the filmmaking classes before but yes this was very... very helpful, exciting and really thank you for such a positive energetic experience...!!!


Ella D.

This is just so fascinating. I really love that he goes through the scene in multiple ways. Such a great way to SHOW how to direct. Super Cool!!

Rob D.

The Steadicam POV is a great way to make the shot look like a cut scene from Grand Theft Auto. Really useful to see all the different ideas though, and Ron is phenomenal. The actors are really stepping up too.

Frank T.

Personalizing the reactions makes the scene exponentially more intimate; their reactions their rejection and disdain is like a cigarette burn to the flesh of the audience. They feel what the subject feels.

Alan C.

I think that when it all comes together this way , you look at all that's happened and you kind of get a sense of , " Everything's going to work . " And you don't even need to say anything aloud , specifically , really ... it's as if you and everyone around you are thinking the same thoughts , feeling the same emotions , without anything really being ( verbally ) said . It's remarkable . More specifically I think that this lesson answers some of my previous questions , such as " What is a 50/50 ? " and things of that nature . The actor playing David does a really good British accent . If he were to live in Great Britain for ahwile , I think that most people wouldn't know that he wasn't British . I think that if I ever got one or more chances of my own to do something of this nature , to make a scene , to make a movie ... that I would try to do it exactly the same way that Ron Howard does it here in these videos . He gets along with the actors and crew really well ; they understand him well ; he understands the story and lighting , tone ... and other things that a director is supposed to know ; and he's right ... if this scene had actually been in the movie in this way ... with this sort of high raw emotion and power ... intensity ... no matter what ... it would be a scene that even with effort ... no audience could ever forget .

Pétainguy M.

The ambiance is very positive. The film maker manages his team with patience and consideration. Very pleasant and not so usual unfortunately ... very lucky actors !

A fellow student

As I'm new to filming I'm finding this great the angle and close up shots give the shot more power and can see how it Impacs the film


Some of the steadicam shots in the actual film were a bit nervous for me. It was interesting comparing this to the film and comparing the film to the actual interview.

Deborah S.

Since I have literally spent years of my life in editing bays, I still have a habit of marking time for actors. EX: Frost at 2:53 was precise, believable and maintained his POV. However, at 3:40 he seemed to be bringing his energy level down and more concerned with the POV of the Steadicam. All acceptable. Ron caught it and in the next take, he brought the scene together perfectly. I believe they call that teamwork. A+

Deborah S.

When I began this section of Mr. Howards class, I had to stop what I was doing and watch Frost/Nixon-again. I actually watched it three times over the course of three weeks. The fist time was to review the films content. The second to familiarize myself with scene sequencing, including the scene we are studying. The third time, I began to feel the importance of each edit and to notice various add-ons that were included to enhance the performances of both FROST and NIXON. The dynamics of adding his brother, Clint and his Father, Rance enhanced the intensity of the unfolding story. The next phase of this class and how the Steadicam can create tension and motivate the actors to feel how their posture, captured by the Steadicam, can make the scene more interesting to the viewer. I learned to appreciate these nuances long ago. Ron Howard, you are the mentor we are all looking for.TY


Using the steadicam really does create the tension that was needed for that scene.