Ron Howard has spent more than 50 years telling the stories that have helped to shape the culture and mindset of the United States. Through his lifelong experiences in the entertainment industry—first as a child star on The Andy Griffth Show and Happy Days and then as an Academy-Award winning director—he has learned about the power of creative problem solving and collaboration. These were the stories he shared with attendees at the ProMat 2023 trade show during a Q&A session with Agile Business Media’s Mitch Mac Donald.
From a very young age, Howard had the opportunity to work with Hollywood legends such as Henry Fonda and John Wayne. What sets the greats apart, according to Howard, is they “outwork everyone else, even late in their career.”
The key to working with such legendary figures and not letting yourself be intimidated was to focus on the job and be confident in your own abilities. Howard came to this realization early in his directing career when he worked with Bette Davis, who was initially skeptical of taking directions from the kid from Happy Days. Howard was able to quickly win her over by following his dad’s advice to “do your job and be prepared but you don’t have to win a power struggle with Bette Davis.”
“I learned the important lesson that if you are in the job then do the job,” said Howard. “You don’t have to posture, but you do have to do the work and be prepared.”
Throughout his directing career, Howard has viewed being in the movie-making business as an opportunity for an ongoing education. “As an actor I was typecast (and correctly so),” he reflected. “But as a film maker, I wanted as much variety as possible. Maybe that was not the best branding or most lucrative path, but it served me the best. I have grown to love collaborating and working with as many different people and many different tones as possible.”
In an industry that appears to value youth, Howard has come to value the “creative benefits of getting older.”
“Experience makes you better under duress,” said Howard.According to Howard, as a young director, he was more easily thrown when filming did not go according to plan, when they ran up against budget constraints or bad lighting or an actor in bad health. As he has grown older, Howard says that he has come to enjoy the challenges and creative problem-solving that grows out of these constraints. “Sometimes the compromises that you have to make along the way can lead to something that is even better than you would have realized otherwise,” he said.
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