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MasterClass is an online course provider that focuses on seeking the advice of the biggest names in a variety of industries and asking them to share their secrets with their students. The calibre of teachers that MasterClass have managed to attract is undeniably impressive, from photography superstars such as Annie Lewbowitz to chef Gordon Ramsay’s cookery classes – but what about the provision for those interested in the world of directing? Have MasterClass been able to deliver on their lofty promises, and find the perfect person to lead their directing class?
The answer to the above question is an extremely firm “yes”; in fact, MasterClass have outdone themselves by attracting none other than Ron Howard to lead their incredible directing course.
The conventional ‘triple threat’ is an individual who can sing, dance, and act, but Ron Howard has redefined the concept with his own three unique specialisms: acting, producing, and directing. As impressive behind the camera as he is in front of it, Howard has built an incredible repertoire of work over the years. From his appearances as an actor on Happy Days, to his instantly-memorable narration (and, in the later seasons, on-screen appearances) in critically-acclaimed sitcom Arrested Development, to his direction of beloved movies such as directing movies such as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Frost/Nixon, Howard’s work perfectly demonstrates his incredible talent across all aspects of the visual arts.
However, while multi-talented, it is directing that Howard is teaching with his MasterClass; and in this regard, there’s no doubt that the Oklahomian is the perfect choice. Over the course of his career behind the camera, Howard has managed to walk a difficult line, delighting both audiences and receiving critical plaudits for his work – a balance that many of his contemporaries have often struggled to maintain.
In terms of critical success, Howard’s career has enjoyed plentiful highlights, including the ultimate prize in the movie world: the award for Best Director at the Academy Awards, for A Beautiful Mind (which also won Best Picture). Howard was also nominated for the same award for the astounding Frost/Nixon, and has also won four Emmys, two Golden Globes, and received numerous BAFTA nominations.
Matching the critical success, Howard has been involved in movies that have enjoyed huge box office success; as well as the aforementioned prestige dramas, Howard’s work includes beloved films such as Apollo 13, Splash, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Parenthood. Few directors have managed to straddle the line between artistic recognition and mass appeal as successfully as the USC alumnus, and none for as long as he has.
The ‘Ron Howard Teaches Directing’ class at MasterClass is substantial in terms of length, with 32 different classes – which run for 12 minutes each – included in the course. This length compares well to other MasterClass courses, and suggests that more than ample time will be spent on each aspect of the course, and additionally that Howard has been as thorough and as meticulous as one would expect in seeking to provide information to students.
The amount of time required to complete those 32 classes is entirely of your own choosing. MasterClass allows you the opportunity to learn at a pace that sits you, so you can work through all of the course materials as and when you are able to do so. This flexibility is definitely advantageous, and should ensure that anyone wanting to take the course will be able to do so.
To say that the Ron Howard MasterClass course is comprehensive is almost to undersell it; the course takes an incredibly deep dive into its subject matter, making it a must for anyone interested in directing professionally or simply hoping to learn more about films in order to further their own appreciation from an academic standpoint.
The course walks a student through the entire production process, starting with aspects such as selecting a script, then choosing actors, and a detailed look at collaboration and how Howard tackles this in his own work. From there, the course continues to the nitty gritty of the film-making process: cinematography is covered in depth, as are the disciplines of production design, research, casting, and much more besides. Post-production then comes to the fore, with classes on topics such as editing, music and scoring, and sound design.
All of the above will be incredibly beneficial to anyone interested in learning more about the entire process that surrounds the production of visual media, and there is no doubt that even if the course just focused on those aforementioned elements then it would be offer something truly special to students. However, the Ron Howard MasterClass takes things a step further still, adding an extra few course areas that literally only Howard, among anyone working in Hollywood today, could produce.
These additional course elements focus on Howard’s body of work, There are scene deconstructions from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind, as well as complete coverage of the staging required – including potential alternatives – to create Frost/Nixon. Howard’s ability to deconstruct his own work and present it to a student is outstanding, and these elements are by far the most instructive and insightful of a course that is already packed with incredibly useful information. Howard’s readiness to draw from his own oeuvre absolutely justifies the MasterClass approach of encouraging experts to teach, and it works perfectly in this setting.
In addition to the collection of videos that form the main basis of the course, anyone choosing to enroll will receive a course workbook at the commencement of their studies. This workbook includes helpful information such as lesson recaps and supplemental material.
Given the breadth of information provided throughout the course, the fee – £85 for just this class, or an annual subscription that breaks down to £14.17 per month – is more than justified, and students can be completely certain that their expectations for achieving value for money will be met with ease.
There is an idiom that comes to mind when considering the MasterClass ethos: “those who can do, do; those who can’t, teach”. Popular and well-used as such a statement may be, it’s inherently incorrect, and as evidence for this we present the ‘Ron Howard Teaches Directing’ course. Howard very much can do – as evidenced by his award-winning work and prestige within the cinematic industry – but with his MasterClass course, he’s proven he’s more than capable of teaching as well.
The course is incredibly impressive throughout, and we particularly found the references to Howard’s own work especially impressive. It is one thing to learn about directing from a theoretical point of view, but the inclusion of Howard’s analysis and explanations for decisions made when putting together his own creations adds an entirely new dimension that tips this course from an already-impressive “good” rating into an all out “great”.
For anyone interested in directing, the MasterClass course with Ron Howard is absolutely worth doing. The value of the information provided is second-to-none, the way it is used is both intuitive and informative, and overall the course is sure to be a hit with any and all students who decide to take it.