From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Refining a Script

Scripts must work on creative and intellectual levels. Ron knows there’s no shortcut to the rewriting process, and he shares how he ensures a script is “camera ready” before embarking on production.

Topics include: Apply Extreme Scrutiny • Involve Yourself in Rewrites • Enjoy the Excitement


Scripts must work on creative and intellectual levels. Ron knows there’s no shortcut to the rewriting process, and he shares how he ensures a script is “camera ready” before embarking on production.

Topics include: Apply Extreme Scrutiny • Involve Yourself in Rewrites • Enjoy the Excitement

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

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When we tell a story to our friends about our recent vacation or a date we went on, we tell the story. Most of us probably recognize that the first time we tell the story as an anecdote, it's a little too long. It's a little awkward. It doesn't quite get the reaction you thought it ought to. You've forgotten something in the middle and you have to remind people later. You don't tell it very well. But people still kind of lean into the story and they're curious. You'll find the next time you tell it, you'll probably tell it a little bit better. Why? Because it's a communication that's meant to express an idea, and let's face it, you're asking people to listen, there's an expectation that in it's own way it's going to-- what? Entertain. It's going to engross. It's going to fascinate. It's going to express something in a meaningful way. By the eighth time you tell the story, maybe you've even embellished it a little bit. Who knows? But it's better. It's tighter. You want to put your screenplay through that process. The director is the keeper of the story and ultimately it's the director's taste that's going to determine the creative choices that are made. And that's sort of the allocation of the resources. I'm talking about a live action production now more than animation. That comes back to the script and the way it's going to be interpreted. And the director needs to intimately understand that screenplay and support it. And if there is a difference of opinion with the writer over the screenplay, this is where collaborators can come in very handy. But a great exercise, which is used in television all the time, is used in theater all the time, is used in movies some of the time, but it's so valuable. And that is to simply do a read through. Get a group of actors, they don't have to be actors who are going to be in the project, and give it a good read through. Maybe videotape it so you can play it back, or record it. Make sure the screenwriter is there. If you want to you can open it up to conversation. I've done read through is where I even give people questionnaires afterwards, so that they're not shy about telling you what bothered them. But go ahead and apply extreme scrutiny to that project and at that point. It's not a finished film, but it's a really important step. And it's going to raise some questions. It's going to give you confidence in some ways because you just have a little greater sense of how that story unfolds as written. And that's a really important step and a fundamental misjudgment in my mind when people don't expose the script to that kind of process and that scrutiny. When it comes to rewrites I'm very involved. Sometimes it's a matter of sitting with the writer and literally pitching ideas. Some writers do better under those circumstances and other writers do better havin...

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.

Some great classes on this site, but have to say this is my favorite so far! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, it's not something you have or need to do, so really appreciated. Great class, 10/10, thank you, Ron.

Amazing lesson, I loved Ron's excellent style and really appreciated all his suggestions. Inspiring, energizing and fun! And I was shocked by his talent in the lessons about staging for the camera. Wow!

More hands on demos would be great but this was the best one yet!

This was the best class I've taken yet! Mr. Howard did a phenomenal job teaching! I have so many ideas to implement that I learned from the Frost/Nixon case study. Every class was packed with valuable information


Chris B.

I like how collaborated he is and likes to include everyone in the process. I feel that is my style as well. Films are a group effort and you need that group to make sure your vision comes to life.

bob A.

All these comments seem fake like Madterclass hired a group of interns to post

Angie M.

Ron Howard does a great job of providing context for how a collaborative dynamic factors into the creative process m.

Dale W.

As a writer (or a wannabe writer anyway) I really appreciate the time Mr. Howard is spending on the script. After living and breathing my particular story for a really long time, he is helping me get out of my own way and see the potential film from a whole new POV. His enthusiasm for film making is catching! Even after the old dog seemingly can't hunt anymore, he is convincing me that it can. Thanks!

Candace M.

Hearing Howard's views on having a script scrutinized was very helpful. As a writer and director, I am always hesitant about sharing my scripts, because I worry that someone might try to change my story in someway. I understand now how important this is, especially because it will provide insight on how the story will be interpreted. His point about table reads and that table reads can be done with anyone was a great tip too! I see how that process can assist in making a script better.

Launa B.

Video taping a read-through is a very useful and time saving tool in working out a script. Understanding how it will connect to your audience is another good tool. Good information and tips, Thank you!


Yes, it was a great lesson, but can I just say how damn likable Ron Howard is? He's like the Tom Hanks of directors. You can't help but get sucked in to his ideas and his orbit.

Walter W.

This was some great information. Several projects I had worked on could have been greatly improved if only we had done a thorough read thru. My problem is I get caught up in the excitement of the project.


I was so ecstatic when Mr. Howard said to have a reading of your script. I did that and it was SO AMAZING. I closed my eyes and the tears flowed. Each reader/actor captured the characters PERFECTLY. It was a group of a bout 50 people there and the story had been based upon my son. So many cried and thanked me for taking them back in time a bit and they were hugging him and telling him what a wonderful boy he must have been, etc. Sad thing is that was about 8 years much has happened in my life that I took my eyes off of my script. My Mom passed away. i have never done anything with it and it is truly wonderful. It could be a plau and/or could be developed into a 30 minute family series. I am hoping this class will truly help me to know what to do with my script, etc. Mr. Howard is wonderful. I watch him by day as a small child and by night as a grownup here. So proud of this opportunity Got to get back to it!!!


This is a big one! When I write and then I hear it from the mouths of actors much of the time the script changes. I feel this is a very valuable lesson. Being a Writer Director I am often inside my own head too much of the time. This is such a great lesson, co-operation and being open to your team!