jen spencer coaches

Words of Wisdom from Ron Howard
11 10 09, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Business Related, Creativity, General, Resources, Thought-Provoking

It is not often you get the opportunity to listen to a creative titan like Ron Howard speak. So when I heard he was receiving the 2009 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at this year’s Austin Film Festival, I was eager to hear his advice to up-and-coming talent.

Howard’s keynote was a nod to the learning and collaboration taking place at this year’s conference. And as I suspected, everything he shared could be translated among all industries in business and across life.

Here are a few of Howard’s thoughts, paraphrased by me.  As you read this, may you be reminded of the possibilities that creativity lends to presence, collaboration and experience.

You have to prep when creating.

Howard explained it’s essential to talk about the story you are creating in the beginning stages of a film, getting everyone on board with the vision from the start. Aside from inspiring collaboration, you further everyone towards a unified vision when you integrate all parts into the bigger idea.

It’s not about the end result, it’s about the journey.

An audience member asked him how to keep the audience engaged in a story, especially when they know what happens, like in Apollo 13

Howard’s response was clear:  It’s not so much about getting the audience to be invested in the ending. The trick is to get them invested in the character’s journey, engaged in how their life works and intrigued as to how the story will progress.  

Then when asked if he could only experience one, choosing between a successful premiere and the struggle and adventures of making a film, he answered he would will always pick the process and richness of filmmaking.

Utilize your resources to the best of your ability and fulfill the creative possibilities of a project.

Resources = money, time and talent.  Your resources are never the same. Each person works differently, especially in regards to talent.  A canned approach doesn’t leverage the possibility of the story. 

No one is perfect.  Continue to dream forward.

Ron Howard admitted that if you asked him to forecast the results of a movie, he would have about a 50% success rate in his prediction. In other words:  you can’t always guess what’s going to "win." 

Inherent in his message is that big rewards take risk. Do your job, fulfill your role, trust your team and lead. Do it knowing that every time you take a step forward in to the unknown, it is a risk. But every time you step, you continue to dream forward.

Each film is special, just as each project and initiative has its own chemistry. Continuing to dream forward and think about creative possibility with your current project or one in the near future takes some of the pressure off "right now" being all you’ve got. 

Thank you, Mr. Howard, for the reminder that we can all be championed to great possibility in work, life, and creativity. 

Your Wing Woman

Additional Resources
Elizabeth Gilbert "Nurturing Creativity"


The Austin Film Festival is one of the top screenwriting festivals in the world.  It’s a week filled with learning and making connections – one big cornucopia of tips on getting your work produced and how to hone your craft. With direct access to Hollywood giants, development executives and producers, writers are given an opportunity to pitch, collaborate, absorb and be among their peers and mentors.

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