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Arts & Entertainment

Production Design

Ron Howard

Lesson time 16:35 min

Learn how Ron finds the right production designers and works to inspire them to create sets that help tell your story, using a mosaic of palettes and colors.

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


Production designers are very interesting people. They have to understand construction. They're practical people. They have to be. But they also really need to be dreamers. They're a little bit more like architects, and they're artists. Many of them are artists. I mean, they can paint beautifully. They can draw. It's very, very useful to not dictate too specifically early on to a production designer unless it's just so vivid in your mind, or you know you're recreating something and authenticity is what is going to be driving every conversation and defining every expectation. Very creative people. And it's important early on to allow them to dream and dream along with them. And they can be a real secret weapon in terms of helping to elevate the visual possibilities of a story and help define the tone, perhaps in ways that might surprise you as the director, and elevate the visual palette and impact of a movie. And even if you're talking about using all practical locations and not investing in building sets, I think that if you work with the production designer, sometimes along with the cinematographer, that you create a kind of a visual understanding of what the project can be and a creative and emotional investment from that production designer to help not only get great locations and sets, not only come up with new ideas that go even further in terms of details and possibilities, but also just be willing to commit themselves wholeheartedly on the project. Because being a production designer on a project is a huge, huge challenge. And there's a tremendous responsibility. And that person deserves to be a part of the most inner circle. [MUSIC PLAYING] Production designer is the individual who's in charge of making sure that the stage is set for each and every scene. That if it's a practical location, that it looks the way it needs to look, that you can tell the story well there. It's the right feel. It's interesting. It's got the right props in it and the right set decoration. Building upon that, they're the ones who are responsible for not only designing sets built on sound stages, but also making sure that they're there on time, and that they can be efficiently transformed for use in one scene into another, and that all of that can happen on budget and on time. And so their job is both creative and logistical. And there's a tremendous amount of pressure on production designers. And they're also not always in the flow of the conversation because they're working out ahead of the production. They're preparing sets for a week from now, two weeks from now. And they're not around to ask the casual question. And sometimes, there's a sort of a natural disconnect that happens. But a great production designer working in concert with the director, and of course, the cinematographer, can literally move mountains. [MUSIC PLAYING] Production ...

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.

I Loved this class even though not every lesson was relevant to me as a stage director, I still found great info in each lesson! Thank you!

I loved the actual behind the scenes classes about staging and blocking. I've only just completed my first masterclass, but I must say if this is the general framework for all of them, there should be more showing and less talking!

Seeing theory put to practice, amazing! Ron's humility and passion was so helpful and he is a great teacher.

A wonderful and a surreal experience. How many people get to say they took a class with Ron Howard? Feeling blessed. He is a wonderful director and I am thankful for the time and knowledge that he shared with us. Cheers!


Robert H.

I am learning that it's going to take a lot of work to make my film. Very informative content.

A fellow student

Overall, these lessons are insightful as an interview, but classes are supposed to show examples, and run through exercises, analyze specific examples. A little disappointed

Katherine W.

I have an unrelated question. In Film, how important is it to have a digital marketing/media background?

Jimmy S.

does anybody else know what's going on with the workbook? I don't see any of the last few lessons.

Birna A.

I'm interested in what Ron says about work with bnatural light, it changes so fast, and I find it very difficult to manage that. Do you have any advice to do it?

J'nee H.

Yes to everything he said. Part of the Production Design machine is the Art Department that works under the Production Designer. I expected him to illustrate more on what this team does because it is a ton.

Graeme R.

So much useful information! Of course, not everyone has a big Hollywood crew, but everything that Ron Howard talks about can be easily adapted to different budgets, scales, and resources. Brilliant!

Elizabeth B.

In answer to Adham El-Khodary, there is no but - this lesson was focused on the director's job with the production designer.

Adham E.

Mr Ron is great but I think this lesson was not focused on directing but on the production designer job. I learned this lesson that the director's job is to help the production designer, the cinematographer, the costume designers, the actors to work together, not to mess up things and also to produce the best possible scene.. I also like when Mr Ron Howard said: the director should manage their emotions. Do you guys agree?

Deborah S.

I enjoy listening to what Mr. Howard lays out for us all in perfect order,