Film & TV

Frost/Nixon: Read-through & Staging Rehearsal

Ron Howard

Lesson time 20:24 min

A director’s job is to narrow the seemingly endless staging choices. Here, Ron offers a rare opportunity to watch his directorial process in action.

Ron Howard
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Yeah I think we can really figure out what this scene is about, the blocking-- Actors. Hey. Hi, I'm Ron. Brian. Gavin. Trevor. Earl. Pleasure. Nice to meet you. Thanks for doing this today. I'm looking forward to it. We're using a scene from Frost/Nixon, which is a movie I directed. In fact, we have the original shooting script over there. I almost opened it up and looked at the scene that we're going to rehearse today, and then I said, no, let's let it be our scene. What I want to try to do is a kind of an exercise, treating it as though it was a rehearsal day on a movie. I want to try to connect with your thoughts about the character. If you have any questions about it, we'll flesh those kind of things out. Then begin to work on the staging. I'll stage it in a number of ways. So be patient. I may want to stage it from a couple of different perspectives, keeping in mind different factors. Time. You know, there might be a simple way to stage it, and a more ambitious way. We'll explore that. Using lighting. Perhaps different things with ideas with camera work, and so forth. So we'll just work through it. Before we get started reading the scene, which is the way I'd like to start, I'll just kind of explain. When we would shoot it, it would be on a practical location. It would be a real garage, with a little alleyway. When we made the movie, we found a practical location that had those couple of features. So we're sort of emulating that here for our rehearsal space today. [MUSIC PLAYING] Let's see, so who is playing who, again? I am Reston. You're Reston, the journalist. Sam Rockwell played your part. David Frost. David Frost, Michael Sheen. You have an accent? I can try it, if you want. Beautiful. That'll help. That will help. I like it better already. I'm playing Bert. Bert, right. He eventually wound up being a Lord, and ran the BBC for a long time. I'm playing Zelnick. Zelnick. Oliver Platt played your part. OK, great. Well, let's read through it. You guys sort of know roughly where this is in the story. There's just been an interview, an important early interview where Richard Nixon seemed to more or less control the whole thing. He didn't really let David Frost get the questions in that you guys have been preparing. So you're the journalists. You have been preparing David Frost for this vitally important television interview. David comes in, feeling like he's done a hell of a good job. And you guys are very concerned that he's oblivious. So without moving around or anything, let's just read through the scene a couple of times. Crash. Frost, Birt, Reston burst out of the house. What revolution, David? You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution with protesters bombing...

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.

Ron has helped me visualize the step by step process of creating a film from preproduction all the way through post production. I can't wait to implement his teachings!

It was informative and the sharing of ideas was inspiring. I was a little disappointed in the lack of more technical aspects.

Ron really took the time to SHOW us not just TELL us. Listening to Herzog tell cool stories is very entertaining dont quite meaure up to Rons very thoughtful and considered teachings. Its way harder to pull together cast and crew like he did just to illustrate what he was saying. Thanks to Masterclass for providing the resources to film that experience... it was really powerful.

Ron is a great teacher. The honesty and passion he has for his craft shines through.


Launa B.

Ron's approach to a read through, and slowly building a scene by adding inflections, tempo, and movement all the while carefully directing/suggesting his actors makes everyone feel they are apart of the creative process.

Frank T.

Ron’s insights throughout are really worth the price of admission. The context And perspective that he gives on acting and directing and the necessary interplay are tremendously enlightning

A fellow student

This is Gold! You have no idea how grateful I am for this. Directing is definitely complicated, you're amazing. Nice work

Alan C.

Ok I don't know where else to ask this , but do you know anything about Amy Jo Berman ? She says that she was a top exec at HBO . She's selling advice for $300.00 + ? I was wondering if anyone knows anything about her . Is she credible at all ? She has a lot of videos and also claims to have masterclasses of her own . Any accurate info would be appreciated , thanks .

Pétainguy M.

I usually film the film making, just to be sure the script is correct. Sometimes, and with times, things appear better than I thought.

Judah H.

Best lesson. Agree with EK Trimble - this is where we get the value out of the material.

Brenton G.

I echo everyone in their praise for this class. It was so helpful to see scene choices be determined through the rehearsal. Two quick questions: 1. What are the names of the actors? 2. Who is responsible for taking notes on adjustments to blocking, acting, and script? It looks like Ron and the actors are making notes...but would a script supervisor be here to make sure all adjustments are accounted for?

Graeme R.

Wow! I have never seen this process, and I am totally awed by the professionalism of the cast and Ron Howard's sensitivity to the nuances of dialogue and position.

Jason D.

These actors were pretty good but, this scene in the original movie....FIRE!!

Chris B.

Really nice to see him build the scene from the ground up. I'm a visual and hands on learner and it's great to see this part of it.