From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Frost/Nixon: Feature Staging for Coverage

Ron shows you how he shoots all the coverage he knows he will need in order to optimize for creative choices in the edit.

Topics include: Shoot for Coverage • Tighter Coverage and Pickups


Ron shows you how he shoots all the coverage he knows he will need in order to optimize for creative choices in the edit.

Topics include: Shoot for Coverage • Tighter Coverage and Pickups

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

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What I want to do now is crash in and start to design some coverage, OK? Let's do a sort of a reverse master. Let's maybe let you do this now. B camera, it's B on this side. Keep the wide. Stay fairly wide. And let's go in with David, OK? And we'll plot this. And we'll make a few decisions as to where they should go. In to frame? I would just let him come into frame and then follow him. And then let the others sort of drift in also around you. OK? Let's take it from the top. Now let's see, what do we want to do with A camera at this point? We've got to watch out that we don't get you in. So let's put A camera-- hmm. Where can we get you? At this point I think-- I wonder if, could you do kind of a profile thing? Something like this. And stay out of his shot. Try to get into his-- I don't know what you're going to get. I think we're just going to have to let you sort of improvise something a little tighter. What were you on there? Maybe go to like a 40 or something like that. So let's try it again. You good? And-- oops. 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 how I remember it. What I remember was people protesting peacefully and legitimately against the Vietnam War. That's what I remember. Music off, please. Music off. By the end, wiretapping students and breaking into journalists' homes was beginning to sound like a rational response. I'm sorry you feel this way. But I simply cannot share your view. About what? About any of it, frankly. I thought today was a huge improvement. Oh, let's see. Let's hang on. So on that spot I think you're going to want to come this way. I agree. Right, so you get kind of a group. Great. So we'd wind up with frame something like that. OK, go. I thought today was a huge improvement. Are you nuts? Let me tell you how bad things were today. After the taping finished, I overheard two members of the crew say they never voted for him when they had the chance. But if he ran again today, he'd have their support. You're making him look presidential, for Christ's sake. And forget about the trivia, David. Who cares whether Nixon took the White House bed to Europe when he traveled? I do. Well, it's irrelevant. Good, cut. OK, good. If you can, we'll do one more. And maybe you can go with him and walk back and get a tighter over the shoulder. So you keep him in the foreground, and then throw the focus deep. OK? Let's try one more. Good. Why don't you-- this time as an alternate, because you've sort of got that wide group shot-- this time why don't you try to come in, and when they're here at the desk, sort of get a loose 50/50. ...

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.

waw, this is really helpfull for my new movie! Thank you Ron & MasterClass for possibility!

It was an incredible experience. To be teached by Ron, but to actually learn about this magical art by a master. I loved it. Thanks Masterclass and thank you Ron!

I knew nothing about directing and now I feel like I at least have a taste of what it's all about.

I`ve learned different approaches of film making. with steadicam shots and ad hoc shots arranged to capture moments as the Sunlight is falling. It also helps to sit back and look at the scenes without sound and figure the editing of the scenes as well as the storyboarding that went into producing these shots into the final sequence.


Sophia T.

It's like he's given this MasterClass the same attitude of preparation, devotion, thoughtful consideration and construction of the lessons, coverage depth & high-vibe energy as his feature films. Priceless! Great credit to the actors, too. So many breaks, takes & information, and they all cope with it immediately. Very inspiring & also eye opening of how a shooting day can look like for film & TV, in opposition to theatre. wow! :-O

Tad N.

Great stuff here. And more proof that Opie is truly one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. It's fun to watch this blocking and staging play and consider what you would do to improve each take...and pretty fun when you see that he ends up doing something similar to what you had in mind. Really really great stuff here...and on the other hand, it's also exhilarating to know that really ANYONE can do this. So much of it is opinion and preference, no real "right or wrong", though there is always, "better or worse."

Deborah S.

I remember someone asking me years ago why I didn't get bored with the repetition of my lines or of the set-ups. I said, are you kidding? When you have a great director, each take is an advantage. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Howards approach. It is very familiar to me.


I'm new to film/video -- how are the cameramen in this lesson focusing? Do they have focus pullers working off-camera with remotes and monitors? Are the camera operators only responsible for the framing and camera movements?

Deborah S.

As we move through the shot sequences and pick-ups, although it would appear that each of these takes may not be necessary, Mr. Howard is leaving his options open for editing and dialogue 'out' opportunities. I am loving every moment. I already downloaded the PDF's.

Adrian R.

I’ve seen some of the other director’s MasterClass lessons and none of them is as in depth as Ron’s. He really cared about letting you see his process and I’m getting wayyyy more usable value out of these lessons than I was getting out of some of the other MasterClass instructors. I really wish every director’s lessons were like this one.

A fellow student

Ron Howard is a director known for shooting a ton of coverage. I look forward to seeing what percentage of shots he uses in the edit.

Charles B.

And at the end of this lesson he is singling out closeups of everyone, reactions, so he has plenty of angles to choose from during edit.

Charles B.

From the last 3 lessons to this one, about 15-20 times walking through, he starts with wide shots, blocking loosely, then moves in for 3 and 2 shots, then in the first half of this lesson he uses camera A to get the main character. Then he has an idea and moves the axis of vision to the other side using camera A and B to acquire the moment in this room with the different angle.

Lorilyn B.

I absolutely loved this. I was an extra in the graduation scene of Patch Adams, and it took 12 hours to shoot. Now I know why.