He's Opie; no, Richie Cunningham; uhh, no -- he's an Oscar-winning director; actually, he's the father of that gorgeous Golden Globe nominee who is quickly becoming one of Hollywood's go-to leading ladies.
To each, his own Ron Howard.
As our televisual entertainment has evolved from scratchy images from impossibly-idyllic little towns up to the current senses-assaulting 3D blockbusters shown on screens the size of buildings, the affable Howard has been at the forefront, adapting his career -- and often leading the charge -- to each new level of innovation. A five decade actor/director who emerged from the days of black and white, it is perhaps appropriate that Howard is now passing the baton to a new generation in a project that celebrates the vividness of color.
Howard is teaming with Canon Cameras to produce a short film based on eight winning user-submitted photos [submissions are being welcomed through June 14th]. Called Project Imagin8ion, the film will find its narrative from photos that convey setting, time, character, mood, relationship, goal, obstacle and the unknown, which, as screenwriters know, are the basis for any screenplay. While he knew he wanted to be a part of it, given time commitments, he couldn't direct -- and so he called on daughter Bryce Dallas Howard to get behind the camera. It's a project he thinks she's ready for.
"She's produced a movie that Gus van Sant directed ["Restless"] and she's involved with scripts, writing scripts, not a lot of people know that she's moving in this direction," Howard told The Huffington Post. "And I sent the idea out to her and her writing partner and they were just immediately thrilled by the proposition and the experimental nature of it."
For the Howards, film is a family business -- and passion. Ron left his hit sitcom "Happy Days," to begin his directorial career around the time that Bryce was born, and soon enough, she was forgoing Barbies for film sets.
"Any time the kids were interested in coming to the set and hanging, I always loved it. And they all did in varying degrees. Bryce was the one who seemed to really enjoy it there the most," Howard remembers. "She was, at age 13, sort of like a PA on 'Apollo 13' and was running around giving people lunch orders and at ten she was helping the caterers clean up afterwards and hanging out and they'd give her a walkie talkie and she'd help out at the production office."
Bryce remembered the time fondly, lighting up at the memories of her childhood behind the scenes.
"It was really defining to get to be around those sets and particularly the crews when I was really young. And I was obsessed with it," she said. "I remember there was one day when I was ten years old when my mom grounded me from the set, and I still remember the devastation."
And while many children of Hollywood are doing auditions, trying to launch acting careers before they hit junior high, Bryce focused on the production before stardom.
"I remember when I was seven, I worked with the caterers and helped squeeze orange juice and I looked in the production office when I was nine, and I was running things to different places and helping shred things and stuff like that," Howard said. "And then when I was 11 or 12 I got my first walkie talkie, I was working under the PAs and helping them out and assisting them, putting lunch together and getting the lunch orders and tracking people down and things like that. I loved it. The call was really early in the morning, I was always the first to wake up in my house."
The transition isn't a surprise to the elder Howard; just as he began his quest to direct after years as an actor, Bryce is repeating the process 30 years later thanks to some formative experiences.
"Early in her career she was exposed to these remarkable artists," he said, name checking Lars von Trier and Kenneth Branagh, "and she found herself having conversations that were kind of reminiscent of the kind of things she remembered us talking about, but with different points of views and different aesthetics at work. She began having those conversations and I thinks he quickly realized that she'd like to take responsibility for the whole story. And that's ultimately what being a filmmaker is about, is wanting to tell a complete tale, whereas an actor's job is to be as creative as possible conveying that character's function in a story."
Now, of course, her role on set is making another evolution. Instead of preparing sandwiches or acting in front of the camera, she'll be setting up shots. Will they be able to work together? Bryce says she's eager to soak in her dad's advice and inspiration.
"I have a lot of reverence for him and what he's done in his career, and so I'm viewing this collaboration in part as an opportunity to learn from him and for him to closely mentor me in what I'm coming to understand as my aesthetic and voice. It's not fully formed yet at all," she professed.
That being said, each Howard will bring a different sort of aesthetic to the film.
"I'm like 10% weirder than he is. He was always kind of scratching his head at the kind of experimental theater I was doing and was always curious about it, and was kind of a little bit fascinated where that came from, because he's a very classic filmmaker in many ways," Bryce laughs. "And his films have such a strong narrative drive, and I really respond to that as an audience member, and I definitely kind of inherited that ambition, but I also can slant a little weird sometimes."
Her dad agrees that they have their different styles, but says that when it comes down to it, they're both just looking to create a compelling story.
"I think she is a little more visual than I am and I think that she, sort of, is driven by a sort of style that is a little bit different than mine," the elder Howard said. "And she's another generation and another gender, and so she's feeling and viewing things in a different way. But, you know, I think we sort of share a desire to create performance opportunities for actors and to tell humanistic stories."