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Arts & Entertainment

Frost/Nixon: Feature Staging for Coverage

Ron Howard

Lesson time 25:58 min

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

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


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.

I watched this because it was recommended for storytellers, not just directors, and I was told it was good. It was the BEST masterclass I have taken so far. So comprehensive. Just like being there with Ron as he directs. So much good information. Classes like this make Master Class an invaluable resource.

The art if diecting is so fascinating and Ron Howard is a master at explaining this process. I'm glad that I can reflect on his process as sort of a guide to finding my own rythmn in directing.

Learned so much. Another one that I'll have to listen again. So much material. I loved it

Best Masterclass yet! I've learned so much and got very motivated to create. Ron Howard is a very generous and humble genius! I love this man!


Robert H.

I am wanting to direct my first film and this is EXACTLY what I need to see. Great work Ron.

Pete T.

I don't know if anyone is available from Masterclass to answer but who is focus pulling for the camera ops for these scenes? And how are they being guided by Ron Howard as to who to focus on? Thanks


Ron probably already has a fantastic vision for how this scene could take place. But he is always pushing himself to improve all aspects of it, by changing nearly all aspects of it dynamically. For Ron, it seems there is no rest in this; he is always really on. It is just as much art as science. It must be exhausting for everyone involved to keep pace or have the stamina to do a long days shooting. With so many people involved, as a director, it would be hard for me to not be distracted by just how much time and money is spent every minute.

A fellow student

Between Martin Scorsese's and spike Lee's lessons this has been the most interesting and influential so far from a cinematic standpoint. The fact that we were able to see him on a physical set working with actors and directing both them and the cameras was great to see as a DP. I hope you guys create more classes like this. Lets get more classes for DPs!

A fellow student

A question about coverage, Ron is moving the cameras around revealing almost the entire set with the different coverage scenarios. If this some of this coverage Is made on the spot, how can you manage the lighting set ups and the complexity of moving around every angle of the set when doing coverage? When as a Director you anticipate this amount of coverage, your DP and PD must prepare the set for this 360' coverage of the set?


This is a great class. In my years of directing, I focus more on no more than a couple shots at a time, but wow ... this is a lot to digest visually. I typically plan every single shot, so that's why I'm really impressed with how quick Ron can improvise with the shots. But that's certainly his years of experience.

Joseph C.

base on time totals Ron's interaction with actors is probably 1/3 of the time for performance about 1/3 for technical blocking and the rest is camera direction and choices, my point is mostly technical total for both of 2/3 technical directions of the whole day

Joseph C.

This is short scene in time but amount of shooting coverage and pickups is amazing , this is movie making at it's best I was just curious that is theatrical style coverage filmmaking, the comparison to TV network would not be efficient, in television shooting, I am sure Ron would agree in TV shooting we have camera setup limits per scene per producer and production shooting costs

Joseph C.

wow tons of coverage terrific quick point of views of camera lens and choices impacting the scene from audience poc a more emotional response from the audience

Joseph C.

At 12:13 is the best explanation of screen direction artistic choice with framing the composition, Ron gave a great reason as to why