In this review of Ron Howard’s class on MasterClass, I’ll share everything I learned to help you decide whether or not to take it.
My journey with filmmaking began at university when my professor told me: “You’ll never make a career out of filmmaking.”
Ouch. I was gutted and gave up on my dream of filmmaking.
Now that I’ve discovered Ron Howard’s class, I have decided to rediscover my passion for movies.
I’ve now watched every single video lesson that is available. This is easily the best MasterClass I’ve ever taken. And I’ve taken a lot.
“Those things that you sometimes fear actually can wind up being the forces that push you to a higher creative plane.”
– Ron Howard
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is “the Netflix for learning.”
It’s a streaming service that offers online classes in creative and practical subjects like cooking, writing, business, sports, and many more. You can take courses in HD, anytime, anywhere, using your computer, smart TV, or mobile.
What sets MasterClass apart from other online learning platforms is the quality of its “masters.” You get the unique opportunity to learn from the most successful people in the world.
Here’s a taste of what MasterClass can offer:
- Malcolm Gladwell teaches writing
- Annie Leibovitz teaches photography
- deadmau5 teaches electronic music production
- Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration
- Christina Aguilera teaches singing
- Ron Howard teaches directing
- Aaron Sorkin teaches screenwriting
- Martin Scorsese teaches film making
- Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
- And many more
How much does Ron Howard’s MasterClass cost?
Enrolling in Ron Howard’s filmmaking class will cost you a one-time payment of $90. Or you can enroll in their All-Access Pass for $180 per year, giving you access to the 80+ classes on the platform (and all future courses).
Ron Howard Teaches Directing: Overview
“It’s not about the crew around you. It’s not about the sets that are being built—it’s about what you capture inside the frame lines. Because ultimately, all of this work comes back to the story. We all have to be telling the story in every single department. And who is the keeper of the story? Well, ultimately, it’s the director.”
Meet your “master”: Ron Howard
Ron Howard is one of the biggest names in the filmmaking industry. He’s brought to life some of the most iconic films of our generation—from award-winning dramas like A Beautiful Mind to blockbusters like The Da Vinci Code.
Over Ron Howard’s career as an actor, director, and producer, some of his most significant achievements include:
- 2 Academy Awards
- 4 Emmys
- 1 Grammy
- 2 Golden Globes
- 7 BAFTA Awards nominations
- A National Medal of Arts in 2003
- Two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
But what makes Ron Howard a great instructor? Why learn from him?
Because he’s a chameleon.
Ron Howard doesn’t just know his way behind the camera—directing and producing. Before picking up the camera, he was a recognized child actor, appearing in popular television shows like The Andy Griffith Show.
This is someone who knows what he’s doing. He’s in the unique position of having lived both sides of the coin. And the lessons he’ll be teaching you is probably something you won’t easily get anywhere else.
When you enroll, you get lifetime access to video lessons, MasterClass’ online community, and a downloadable follow-along workbook prepared by Ron Howard himself.
Ron Howard aims to teach you how to be the “keeper of your story.” As he puts it: “We all want the same thing: Great scene, great moment, and a great movie.”
There is two and a half hours worth of video lessons. There are 12 classes aiming to give you a well-rounded education on filmmaking, starting from choosing a story down to an in-depth guide on post-editing.
The lesson plan includes:
- Choosing a story
- Evaluating a script
- Refining a script
- Developing the film
- Collaboration Parts 1 & 2
- Scene Deconstruction
- Editing Parts 1 & 2
- Sound Design
- Closing remarks
Every lesson is incredibly well-produced. I’ve always enjoyed the impeccably produced courses in Masterclass. But this one is a cut above the rest.
From the introduction to the last lesson, the imagery, sound, and nuances in each shot will catch an aspiring director’s eye. You can see Ron Howard’s touch in every shot.
As for the instructor himself, Ron Howard doesn’t disappoint. Valuable content keeps on coming, and Ron never lets up for one second. I found myself pausing and taking notes every other minute, afraid to miss something helpful.
Each video lesson may only be 10 to 15 minutes short, but you’ll learn things it would have taken you years of experience to discover.
Ron Howard’s masterclass also comes with a complete follow-along workbook. Of course, you’ll benefit from each lesson on its own, but the workbook is designed to supplement your learning experience.
It contains a recap of each lesson, some additional tips, suggested viewing and reading materials, and assignments that should help you immediately apply what you’ve learned from Ron Howard.
But is it helpful?
Everyone learns differently, but I retain knowledge better when I take notes and do exercises immediately after lessons. I even printed this workbook and used to jot down valuable notes along the way. For me, it’s a welcome extra feature.
Each MasterClass course also gives you access to the platform’s community called The Hub. It’s a forum where you can connect with fellow students, exchange resources, and start discussions on the subject at hand.
Now, from my experience in taking other MasterClass courses, The Hub is a mixed bag. Some subs are busier and livelier than others, while some are a bit quiet.
Ron Howard’s The Hub section is on the quieter side, but you have the chance to participate in some exciting discussions and see how other students are performing on their assignments. It’s still a great way to make friends and share your excitement about the masterclass or film in general.
Three things I loved about Ron Howard’s filmmaking masterclass
There are plenty of reasons to love Ron Howard’s masterclass. Here are a few highlights for me:
1) It encourages you to embrace authenticity
“For me, it’s always trying to identify something in an idea that I’m excited about. It’s not an intellectual thing. It’s just an emotional thing.”
If there’s one lesson that would always stick with me from taking this masterclass, it’s that your instinct is your compass. You can connect to a story authentically that will always point you towards making the right decisions.
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Listening to a commercially-successful director tell you that it all boils down to your emotional connection to your craft is the most validating thing you can hear.
I think every aspiring director has doubts. Most of the time, these doubts stop us from being authentic to who we are as storytellers. We almost always obsess about how our audiences will respond to our creations: “Will they like it?”
In this masterclass, I realized I should instead be focusing on how the story makes me feel, and making sure it resonates with others that way.
I loved Ron Howard’s filmmaking masterclass, not only because it taught me how to build a film from start to finish, but because it inspired me to believe in myself. And I think every aspiring director needs to hear that.
2) It teaches you to value collaboration
“Learn to listen, respect and accept other people’s ideas…A good director is also a good listener.”
While this masterclass is awe-inspiring on so many levels, it’s balanced with the hard-punching reality that as a director, you won’t be a god. Filmmaking is a collaborative process, no matter how passionate you are.
Ron Howard addresses this perfectly. As he says, you’re the “CEO of the movie.” It’s both an honor and a burden. You’ll be able to steer the ship, but you also have to depend on others to arrive at the destination. And sometimes, that involves recognizing that the intuitive ideas of others could lead you to better choices as a director.
There’s a lot you can benefit from the “spontaneity and organic creativity” that the people around you can offer. And you’ll learn in this masterclass just how much that will affect the outcome of your film.
3) It’s a well-rounded education in filmmaking
Inspiration is one thing, but does this masterclass deliver real, applicable skills you can add to your filmmaking repertoire?
Ron Howard teaches you how to choose a story—if you’re lucky enough to choose. He’ll tell you to try and incorporate a fresh perspective to a traditional idea and to look for and maximize powerful moments.
But he’ll also guide you with an incredibly helpful script checklist—which I haven’t personally thought of before—to deconstructing a scene and how to work with actors so you can draw out the best in them.
It’s one thing to learn about camera angles, stage setting, and how to collaborate with dozens of fellow creatives. Still, it’s also important to know, essentially, how to “direct” a project. How are you going to make decisions? When do you let go of the reins and pass it to someone else? How can intellectual and creative humility help you to become a great director?
Ron Howard’s philosophy that a director is the “keeper of the story” is truly at the heart of this masterclass.
Consider it an “essentials” course for great directing
I loved Ron Howard’s filmmaking masterclass because it taught me valuable insights into the theory of a good director’s decision-making.
If I have to be picky, there is only one aspect of this course I am disappointed with.
In addition to the “thinking force” behind great filmmaking, I thought I’d be learning a lot of technical things. I was excited to learn about cameras, lenses, cinematography—but it doesn’t go as in-depth into the technicalities as I had hoped it would.
If you do choose to take this class, try to manage your expectations. You may not get an in-depth tutorial on cinematography and editing, but you’ll gain a broader perspective on filmmaking.
Ron Howard’s course is more about getting into the “mindset” of great directing. If it’s merely filmmaking theory you want to get from this class, you’ll be more than satisfied because you’ll be getting wisdom you most likely won’t get anywhere else.
After all, it’s not every day that you get to learn from the best in the industry. And to aspiring directors, the chance to learn from Ron Howard himself is already quite the privilege.
Why should you take Ron Howard’s directing masterclass?
Because you want to be a better storyteller. Because you want to learn from someone who “walks the talk.”
If you want to translate your vision into reality, you’ll benefit from this masterclass.
Ron Howard’s masterclass won’t hold your hand to the end zone. It won’t be an ABC guide on how to direct a film. You won’t suddenly become an award-winning filmmaker overnight. But this masterclass is everything you need to know to be a better, more capable director.
Ron Howard’s directing masterclass is perfect for:
- aspiring or established directors who want to learn from a successful master filmmaker
- editors, actors, or scriptwriters who want to gain a better understanding of the filmmaking process
- film enthusiasts who wish to a sneak-peak into what happens behind the scenes
- anyone creative who wants to learn how to see any project through
I said the last part because it’s true. This isn’t just for film professionals and enthusiasts. It’s for anyone who struggles to finish creative projects. People who don’t know how to begin. Those who don’t know how “lead.” Anyone who needs that extra dose of motivation, the encouragement to believe in yourself, and just do it.
Bottom line: If you need to be inspired, take this masterclass.
Should you get the All-Access Pass?
If you like Ron Howard’s masterclass, you might be wondering if it’s better to buy the one-year, unlimited, All-Access Pass to MasterClass instead.
I’ve been in the same position. When I took my first masterclass on cooking by Gordon Ramsay, I was hesitant to buy the All-Access Pass, too. $90 seemed the safer option if I was only really interested in that one course.
But I’m the kind of person who just can’t pass up a good bargain. So I did my research. I took a look at all the courses MasterClass offered, noted a few I would be interested in, and read some reviews.
I suggest you do the same. Browse through all of the courses, watch the trailers, read some reviews. It’s also good to note that Masterclass has a few more courses on filmmaking by Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Spike Lee. There are other courses for acting, screenwriting, and photography as well.
Personally, it has been a rabbit hole of life-changing and entertaining classes for me. So if you think you can benefit from 2 other courses in Masterclass, then you should buy the All-Access Pass. Your $180 will be more than worth it.
This is one of my favorite courses in MasterClass. I felt like it was such great value for the time and money I spent. I gained solid, practical knowledge I feel like I can apply to elevate my projects to the next level.
All in all, the two and a half hours you’ll spend watching Ron Howard talk about filmmaking will get you moving. If you’re stuck, it will help you get the ball rolling. If you’re itching to make a story come to life, it will help you to start. It will help you decide which stories people want to watch. This masterclass will fire you up in ways that I think very few filmmaking classes ever will.
After you take this class, you won’t be a worse director than you were before it. You’ll come out of this course a better director—more passionate, assured, and inspired.