Film & TV

Refining a Script

Ron Howard

Lesson time 09:00 min

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.

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

I knew nothing about directing but with Ron Howard's Masterclass I have learnt so much within such a short time. Thank you Ron Howard for being a brilliant teacher.

Ron Howard has directed some of my favorite movies, and now I know why I like them so much: he is not only a talented visionary filmmaker, but also a passionate person and a humble collaborator.

Ron Howard's Masterclass on Directing is also a class on acting and writing. It is wonderful to listen to Ron speak openly and humbly about the joy of telling stories with moving images. The course is most powerful when Ron takes us on set and shows us how he works with camera operators and actors to stage the same scene three different ways. Thanks for using the medium to teach the medium.

By far the best masterclass I've taken and I've taken about a dozen now. Him staging those scenes with actors is exactly what Scorsese's lacked. LOVED THIS ONE!!


A fellow student

Taking what personally excites me about a story and then analyzing why is invaluable - this is how you put it on the screen.

A fellow student

Biggest highlight from this lesson for me is to think critically about a script, and to make a conscious effort to involve other people in that process.

Clyde M.

The BIG takeaway got from Ron was building with sequences. I'm a huge fan of Blake Snyder's BS2 Outline. Now I understand sequences help me build to those plot points. Thanks Ron!

Nina J.

I am going to a new writer/director workshop today and just watching this before 😁 already got an idea about what I can start working on with a script

A fellow student

As a screenwriting major in college, it is incredibly inspiring to hear Ron speak about how he respects the writers vision and wishes to follow through and elevate that (~5:30). This is one of my main concerns with selling a script. Not that someone may change it to their vision, that is their right after buying it, but as a writer I create all of these scenes with the vision in mind and so have always been excited at the thought of sharing that idea deeply with a director who is really invested in it. To think I could be discussing character growth and plot point rewrites with Ron Howard and have him actually care is definitely inspiring.

George B.

Uhoh. I might actually do this... Mr. Howard has drawn me in, and the practicality is unavoidable. for me. Ordered books, Learning what I want to do.

Nadine L.

I love the natural authentic lesson. He really speaks about individuality and how you see things which is very important lesson in todays society. Be yourself. Search within, inspire from beyond.

Caroline F.

I loved this lesson. I felt like it gave me creative permission. My writers and actors have strong voices but as the "keeper of the story" I feel empowered to re direct.

A fellow student

I liked this lesson very much. It gave me insight on how there are better mediums than others to communicate certain stories with, and it also helped me to understand how look for great collaborators. I'm really glad that Ron (one of the greats in his own right) treats the craft as a passion project more than only being a profession, and that he teaches from that perspective in these lessons. (Thanks, Ron!)

Jorge P.

Hi Everyone!I Agree. I had a lot of colaboration of my AD and Actors and we redifined some dialogues of the script.