Film & TV

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
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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. ...

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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.

The class was phenomenal and hearing from a person that's been and done that successfully was super pleasant. It was a long class that took a while to complete but it was well worth it. Thank you to Mr. Howard for taking his time to share his expertise with us. I will use this information for the rest of the time I'm acting, directing, writing and/or producing.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ron's insights into directing -- especially how he offered an indie version of the practical directing workshop.

Best part of course was the thorough process of blocking and shooting a scene. I would have been great if the footage from these rehearsals was used to show editing approaches.

I loved the actual behind the scenes classes about staging and blocking. I've only just completed my first masterclass, but I must say if this is the general framework for all of them, there should be more showing and less talking!


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

Christine W.

Completely impressed - the capacity to work at this pitch of thoroughness instinct and artistry - marks out the Award winners from the rest of us


Amazing transformation from beginning to end. Thoroughly enjoyed the scene.

Judah H.

Is Ron doing the job of a director here or the job of several people on an actual set? My gut tells me it depends on the budget, scale, creative choices, etc. It's super interesting to watch. It seems like a live broadcast style where he's picking camera shots as the scene plays out.

Joseph N.

These lessons watching Ron at work are exciting to watch. To see him apply practicically many of the elements he has talked about is solidifying his ideas in my mind. I like how he interrupts the work at will when he needs to clean up moments and camera angles.

Mustujab K.

I have a question, while I was watching this, I only see 1 boom mic and 4 cameras, is that normal?


This lesson has been worth the entire 180, watching the coverage, being able to see what the director sees, coordinating the camera shots and seeing the actors get better as they become more familiar with the material and the blocking.