Posts Tagged ‘Ron Howard’

“I like to think about sequences. I really believe less in a three-act structure and much more in sequences that are sort of eight-to-12 pages. Roughly about ten-minutes that work almost like chapters in a story. Nobody is better at building a story this way than Steven Spielberg… The sequences have their own beginning, middle, and end that are satisfying—it really pulls you along.”
Director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

Related post:

Sequence Writing (Tip #105)

A look at Chris Soth’s sequence version called the “mini-movie method”—mixed with a little Blake Snyder

Scriptshadow’s Sequence Approach to writing

Scott W. Smith

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“Is there a thematic narrative question that’s being asked? And is it answered? Because without that it’s not very fulfilling storytelling.”
Director Ron Howard
(On one of the questions he asks when considering a screenplay.)

The screenplay for the 1984 film Splash received an Acadamy Award nomination (Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Brian Grazer, Babaloo Mandel).  Splash director Ron Howard, fresh off directing Solo: A Star Wars Story, explains an angle he brought to the fish out of water story that he directed early in his career.

Splash is an example of basically a 30s romantic comedy. It makes all the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, all the obstacles—they’re right out of the screwball comedies. Which I always adored. Even in the 80s when we made Splash it was already too tired to do it in a literal way, yet adding the fantasy element of her being a mermaid it made all of that okay. So sort of the traditional idea, the sort of quaint idea, was suddenly fresh, visual, funnier, and more interesting. Along the way, I also came up with this other theme that love is not perfect. I actually got the John Candy character to say that line. And it became really important to me. It was the idea that you’re going to have that initial rush of romance and excitement and then may discover there’s some complications, there’s some problems—yet what are you going to do with that love? Is that going to be the thing that chases you away or are you going to accept it?”
Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

It’s hard to hear John Candy say, “Nobody said love’s perfect” and miss the echo of the line “Well, nobody’s perfect” from the end of the 1959 movie Some Like It Hot. And to show what’s old is new again, check out the video below to show the connection between Splash and the 2018 Best Picture Oscar-winner The Shape of Water. 

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of literal fish out of water stories. A couple of years ago there was a reboot of Splash in development with Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell attached with this twist—Tatum as the mermaid.

Related posts:

Writing from Theme 
More Thoughts on Theme
Michael Arndt on Theme
Diablo Cody on Theme
Scott Frank on Theme
Sidney Lumet on Theme


Scott W. Smith


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I started this postcard thing a couple of years ago to help keep the blog going when I was on the road or busy on productions and couldn’t devote time to a new post. But this blog also celebrates a sense of place so it’s an opportunity to do that at the same time.

Yesterday after a shoot at Disney World I took the above photo of an old train depot. I haven’t seen it in over a decade but decided to check it out because traffic was bad on I-4. A few hours later I went to see the movie Rush and when I reflected on the day I realized it stirred a lot of memories. A lot of odd connections.  Yesterday just happened to be the exact day Disney World opened in 1971. Keeping with the 70s theme the movie Rush is set in the 1970s. Two of my biggest teenage influences in the 70s were the Eagles’ album Hotel California and the photographer Ansel Adams. If you know both of them you know how that formed my taking the above photo.

Ron Howard who I watched faithfully in the 70s when he was an actor on Happy Days, directed Rush. I went to see Rush with my wife who happened to do extra work on another Ron Howard film, Parenthood, that was shot in Orlando. And finally in the movie Rush one of the Formula One race drivers featured is the great Mario Andretti. One of the first jobs I had in the Orlando area when I was a teenager was a place called Mario Andretti’s Gran Prix International which was glorified go karts dressed up to look like mini-formula one cars. It was a fun job.

Sorry for the detour, but hope you like the photo.

BTW— I thought Rush was terrific.

Scott W. Smith

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“Everything’s always about page-turning, right? What’s next? So, if you create questions for audiences, then they’ll want to know the answer. Or they begin to formulate possible outcomes. That’s the game we play when we’re hearing a story unfold. That’s part of what sucks us into a movie.”
Producer/Director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon, Rush)
Extended interview: Ron Howard on directing
CBS Sunday Morning

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On this repost Saturday I’m going back to a post I wrote 2 1/2 years ago on Ron Howard. While his latest film Rush (centered around the effects of a race car accident) gets a wide release here in the States this weekend, many people may be unaware that his feature directorial debut released back in 1977–also had to do with cars crashing. Here’s the original trailer for Grand Theft Auto, followed by the post that first ran on February of 2011.

“I literally thought I might get fired at lunch.”
Ron Howard
Speaking about the first day of shooting his first feature film at age 23.
(Grand Theft Auto for Roger Corman. A film Ron co-wrote with his actor father, Rance Howard.)

Ron Howard has had one of the most amazing careers in entertainment history. First, as a youth and a young man he was an actor in several iconic TV shows and movies; The Andy Griffith Show, The Music Man, Happy Days and American Graffiti. He played Huck Finn, met Walt Disney and had cameo parts on Gunsmoke, Lassie, M*A*S*H, The Waltons, and The Twilight Zone. He acted alongside Hollywood legends John Wayne and Lauren Bacall in The Shootist where he earned a Golden Globe nomination.

Then as he shifted to directing he started his education at USC and finished it directing a feature for Roger Corman. From there he’s gone on to make over 30 more films including and as varied as Apollo 13, Cocoon, Slash, Backdraft, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Da Vinci Code. In 2002, he won two Oscars for his role as producer and director on A Beautiful Mind. Howard has also won a few Emmys as one of the producers of Arrested Development and From Earth to the Moon.

He comes from a perspective few, if any, can match— accomplish actor, low-budget filmmaker, Oscar-winning Hollywood producer/director. So just maybe he’d be a good person to listen to as the film business transitions to actually not having anything to do with literal film strips. A time when people are asking, “Will there even be movie theaters in the future?”

“It can be unsettlingAny time you go through a period when technology and delivery systems and distribution systems broaden and change, when there are generational shifts—all that influences what filmmakers do, the decisions they make, the kinds of projects they can work on. But I sometimes think about this 96-year-old guy, named Charles Rainsbury, who had a tiny speaking part in Cocoon. He’d been an actor and a film crew member when Fort Lee, New Jersey, was the center of the film world. He hadn’t been on a set since 1915, 1916. When I asked him how movies had changed since then, he said, ‘We didn’t have to shut up when they were shooting then; otherwise, it’s the same, hurry up and wait.’ And I find that comforting. As we go through this period of transition and worry about whether people are seeing our movies in multiplexes or on cell phones—or seeing them at all—I’m reminded that the thing I love is this process that hasn’t changed so much: You try to tell a story that’s meaningful, and share it with people. What really gets me out of bed in the morning is this lifestyle that I’ve always been a part of: the creative problem-solving, the collaboration.”
Ron Howard
DGA Quarterly/Fall 2009

See it’s not really the film biz after all—it’s the story biz. Go tell some meaningful stories.

Link to Ron Howard’s Oscar Acceptance Speech.

Scott W. Smith

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“A rivalry is an act of obsession and love, I wanted [Rush] to feel like a love story even though they were just bashing the living daylights out of each other.”
Rush screenwriter Peter Morgan
Reuter/Rush screenwriter inspired by rivalry, not Formula On racing

“[Rush] was suggested to me by my friend George Lucas, and it was enthralling because of both the unique characters and the thrilling drama of motorsports. When I started working with screenwriter Peter Morgan, we immediately understood that there was the opportunity to make a film that was fresh and different. He’s exceptional in unearthing these surprising conflicts in personal relationships, and the fact that Lauda and Hunt were so different allowed us to work on their profiles in an original way….The main theme is ambition. The level of ambition that’s necessary to overcome fear. Rush also tries to answer a simple, but terrifying question – what pushes a man to flirt so much with death?”
Rush Director Ron Howard
RUSH:The Movie—A Ron Howard Interview

Related Post (Theme, Character, Conflict Emotion cover a lot of ground)
Ron Howard and the Story Biz
Theme (What Your Movie is Really About)
Writing from Theme
Martin Luther King & Screenwriting (Tip #7) “Strong-willed characters”
Everything I Learned in Film School (Tip #1) “Conflict, conflict, conflict”
40 Days of Emotion

P.S. Ron Howard’s two Oscar-Awards were for producing and directing Frost/Nixon, a film which brought Morgan his second screenwriting Oscar-nomination.

Scott W. Smith

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There’s an Iowa kind of special,
Chip-on-the shoulder attitude,
We’ve never been without.
Iowa Stuborn from The Music Man
Song & play written by Meredith Willson

Composer, conductor, songwriter, and playwright Meredith Willson is most well known as the creative forced behind The Music Man. He was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902 and educated at what would become The Julliard School. What’s less known about Willson is that he composed the scores for Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and William Wyler’s The Little Foxes——both of which earned him Academy Award Nominations.

He also wrote The Unsinkable Molly Brown which had a two-year run on Broadway and became a film starring Debbie Reynolds. His radio program ran between 1935 and 1953. And since it’s December, I should point out that he also wrote the classic holiday song It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas.

But Willson’s real legacy is The Music Man which took reportedly took him seven years to write and premiered on Broadway back in 1957 and has twice been made into films. Though I’ve lived in Iowa for almost ten years, this week was the first time I toured his childhood home in Mason City and The Music Man Square which pays honor to the man that paid tribute to his home state.

There’s too many layers to pull back at this time about The Music Man, but you can file Willson’s bio in the folder titled, “Talent Comes from Everywhere.” And let me just end this post with a clip of future Hollywood director Ron Howard singing the Wells Fargo song in The Music Man (1962):

Scott W. Smith

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