Ron Howard shares the passion behind his success
Ron Howard’s Father was a director of theater so it was somewhat inevitable that he would start his career as a child actor (Happy Days, anyone?). These days, he’s more well known for his work behind the camera. Early on in his career he began to realise his ambitions for directing after being directed by lots of people who used to be actors themselves.
I was given an 8mm camera and I didn’t really start playing around with it seriously until I was about 14 or 15. I think the key to all of that, is starting to grasp the understanding of the power of editing.
Learn about being an Actor
Calling on his years as an actor, Ron Howard saw actors as always being at the center of what’s going on. They are at the center of the problem solving and involved in how to work a scene out. Acting is a great training ground for being a director. When you transition into being a director, you step away from just thinking about your characters emotions, problems and questions and start to take a look at the whole story.
Even if you have no interest in acting at all but you want to be a director, you should learn about acting. Maybe even go and take some acting classes. As an actor you will learn about communicating a story, which will always help you as a director.
Jack of all genres or master of one?
Ron Howard always wanted to have a diverse range of films in his portfolio and didn’t want to be stereotyped into a certain genre as a director. Sometimes you will have more experience with a certain genre and naturally, you will be more confident about making that movie. Keeping it fresh and fun is important for any director, try something new!
Tips for Directors
Some directors are sweethearts, some are jerks, some are talkative and some are quiet. None of that is important, everybody is different and will approach directing differently. So what is it all about? Taste. Taste and judgement. It’s understanding what exists within the possibilities of the story you are telling. It’s understanding how many of those details can you capture and how can you sequence them together in the editing.
It really doesn’t matter how you get there. Whether it’s a small crew or a big crew. Whether it takes a long time or a little while. What really matters is what did you get and what does it mean to other people when you edit it together and show it to them.
Challenges for Directors
The big challenges are still trying to get basic emotional ideas expressed in challenging and logistically complicated places. You could experience bad weather, be filming in a crowded place or you could have technical difficulties (we’ve all been here). What’s really going on in the middle of all of this is real human emotion. It’s going to require acting, with focus and sensitivity. This is what puts Ron Howard most on edge on set, if any of these factors come into play it can have a real knock on effect on the day, the crew and the schedule.
Advice for new Directors
Whatever the genre, if there’s a movie that you really like or if there is a sequence that you really like. Watch it over and over. Then watch it again with sound and without sound. When you remove the element of sound, you take away some of the polish and impact a scene has. This will give you a look at the choices the filmmakers made. How did they get that shot? Did they use the same shots? Is the camera moving? What’s the language the filmmakers are using.
Intuitively, we understand movies but when you start to really look at a film to understand exactly how it was made and what was done on the day, it’s like a light goes off. It removes a lot of mystery and we begin to see the way the film was put together.
Anybody can shoot anything, but it’s how you begin to build it and piece it together that means the most. – Ron Howard