From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Frost/Nixon: Alternate Staging Possibilities

Now that Ron knows he has all his master shots and additional coverage, he explores other possibilities—often following an actor’s natural instincts.

Topics include: Energize the Scene


Now that Ron knows he has all his master shots and additional coverage, he explores other possibilities—often following an actor’s natural instincts.

Topics include: Energize the Scene

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

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OK, so we're going to go through that version of the blocking again. And every once in a while we're going to stop, I'll walk in and explain the reasoning for that staging, and talk through some of the other possibilities that we might have been able to consider. And then we'll carry on from there. 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 was people protesting peacefully and legitimately about the Vietnam War. That's what I remember. Music off, please. Music off. By the end? OK, great. So this is a position that the actor's first and foremost and very importantly fell into very, very naturally. It also lent itself to a good wide shot, an establishing shot that we could do to establish the room, particularly the moment when chases out the imaginary actor who would one day be there playing the radio. It also creates some space. And it gives an opportunity for a shot here that we did where you have David in the foreground and you see that he's trying to ignore the pressure that's being put on him by everybody. And it also gives a kind of a space as though he's surrounded by three individuals who have a strong point of view or are upset with him. So spatially I felt it created different lines that we could also work with. Over the shoulder here I remember we did. And an over the shoulder here that we did. So again, it's this idea of David being ganged up on by everyone. So this first stop, again, is where they organically landed when we did the first rehearsal. And maybe I tweaked it a little bit just in order to position for the camera, but this is where you guys naturally felt inclined to go, which is always a good sign. It's a good idea by the way, to let actors begin to stage it on their own. You might have one or two principles that you need. For example, it needs to play near a window, or a light source, or you wanted the sun at their backs, or just some basic idea like that. But having been an actor, I've always found that anytime the actors can establish the staging on their own it's very helpful, because it's organic to them. And sometimes they'll have an instinct about something that is different from the one that you had as the director while you were making out the shot list that works very, very well and might give you an idea. Like I remember at one point you sort of moved. Yeah. Or I could tell you wanted to begin to move. Yeah, that instinct. And then you didn't. And then that gave me the idea that, well, that would be a good spot for a very organic walk away from David. So those are the kind of things. Anyway, this is where this staging landed. And that's sort of our first stop in the scene. OK, carry on. And actio...

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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.

This class was incredible! I'm a camera operator working towards becoming a director and this class made me feel like I was right there on set with Ron Howard. It helped me gain great insight into his experience in the world of directing. I'm very pleased with this class. Thank you!

THe great thing about Mr. Howard's class is that he actually taught! Instead of just sitting and talking like a lecture, he taught his process and how he goes about things and gave us a look into his filming world, rather than just giving a long history lesson of his career.

I took this class before going into production for my first film and it gave me a lot of confidence in terms of my approach.

im a total beginner but with this class i now feel the confidence to get out and start looking for stories and direct them :D


Chris B.

I love to see all the coverage he gets, I always feel like I want to much, but if the scene calls for it and drives it, get it.

Deborah S.

Excellent explanations. Thank you Mr. Howard. Cameramen are superb. Grateful for the actors who seem to enjoy working with Mr. Howard as well. Loved it! Be back later today. I want to review what I've seen today and get the films suggested I view from my streaming services. Then I want to catch-up on my assignments.

Tim K.

Nixon took the White House to Europe? Fun little moments like this brighten my day when I shoot myself ^-^

Momotimi P.

This lesson was super loaded with powerful nuggets.. "Regardless of the Genre, staging shots is always about Objectives.." Wow.. Amazing.. Thanks Howard

Joseph S.

I can't believe the amount of knowledge I'm getting from Mr. Howard! He not only does the work, but goes back to explain it. Shots can explore the conflict between characters. It's all important visual choreography. Thank you so much for this!

Kevin B.

Mr. Howard's Master Class just keeps getting more and more interesting. These types of classes that not only tell but more importantly "Show" how it's done. I'm loving this!

Maria Elena S.

I loved this class. Being able to see and hear what Ron is looking for in his staging helps to understand the reasoning behind the decisions and placement of the characters and cameras.

Colin W.

I love the level of detail he goes into explaining the directing of this scene. `Shows how vital it is to direct actors, then shoot for performance, then get coverage, while never losing a sense of what the whole thing is about!

Stamtad M.

What is the boom pole guy doing there when all of them are lav'd? Sometimes he is there sometimes not. Just wondering..

Andrew C.

These sections are the best of the class- seeing Ron work with the actors, staging, crew and cameras is so helpful. Takes the learning to the next level! More like this please MasterClass!