Arts & Entertainment

Editing: Part 1

Ron Howard

Lesson time 15:58 min

For Ron, the editing process is the time when you execute the final rewrite of a movie. Learn how to find the right editor and develop an editing style for your film together.

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

Topics include: Find a Great Editor • Have a Conversation Early On • Central Characters Inform the Editing Style • Discover New Possibilities


Editing is the process where the movie or the television show is actually made. Everything else is gathering the raw materials, as my friend George Lucas likes to say. It's also the place where you execute your final rewrite. Because there are so many creative decisions still to be made during the editing, and so much that you learn about the story it is that you want to tell. One of the most exciting but daunting things about the editing process, it's the time in which you actually come to terms with the possibilities of your story. Everything else has been a hope, a belief. Now, in very tangible ways, you're looking at what your story actually has to say. What does it convey? How effective can it be? Now if the results of that are unsatisfactory for you or your audience, there's still a lot you can do about it. And that is what it's important to understand is that, despite your plan, despite everything that went into all the choices that you made from the script, through the casting, through the production design, the budgeting, and the scheduling, the shooting, it doesn't matter what you thought you were doing or what you hoped you were going to get. What matters now is what you have to work with. So it's important to put all of that behind you and have an open mind. I always like to turn to the editors at a certain point when I see a scene that's not working very well. And I like to say, what idiot directed that scene? Because it's just a way of formally putting all that behind us. It doesn't matter. This is the task at hand A good editor is proficient, is professional, is willing, hardworking, and doesn't have a lot of ego. Is willing to follow direction. And has good solid taste. A great editor is somebody who has all of those qualities and yet can look at a scene in a slightly different way. Has superb taste. And a creative imagination that inspires him or her to re-edit the scenes in ways that the director didn't present. That weren't necessarily scripted in a particular way. Might reorder some of the dialogue. Might structurally reshape things. I wouldn't want that to be the primary initial cut, but I love it when an editor has the confidence to take some sort of creative authorship over a scene and have it as an alternate version. Ultimately, however, editors are not the people who are supposed to decide what the final cut is. Whether the director has final cut in a contract or not, I believe that the best films benefit from this single oversight. And that's the director. But I work very closely with editors who are extremely talented and very creative. And it's another one of those key collaborations that yields a set of options. And ultimately, it's my job to choose the approach. Same with director of photography and all of these other categories. Yes, they have a tremendous amount of autonomy and au...

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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