The first movie Ron Howard directed featured an impressive record

Howard impressed everyone with his feature directorial debut.

The pressure couldn't have been higher for Ron Howard when he was making Grand Theft Auto. The former Opie's Roger Corman-produced directorial debut was a real make-or-break situation. Is this hotshot 23-year-old all talk? Or will he actually deliver on the promise of a life spent on set?

$600,000 is a lot to entrust to anyone, and the budget hung over Howard's head as the first-time director readied his cast and crew. It's not often we have an exact dollar figure of the price of our potential failure. Obviously, history shows us that Howard was able to build a legendary career out of that initial movie, but at the time, the tension was high.

The stress mounted during the first day on set, according to a 1977 interview with The Shreveport Journal.

"I did get panicky on the first day, though," said Howard. "By lunchtime, I had done only four or five shots, and according to my schedule, I was supposed to do 29 shots. I went off to lunch and thought I wasn't going to cut it. But I did, and everyone was very excited because the kid director got it done on the first day."

While Grand Theft Auto might not be as well-remembered as some of Howard's later work, it did feature an impressive filmmaking milestone. Because it was a Corman-produced feature, Howard had to learn to work as quickly as possible within the limited time the budget allotted.

He rose to the occasion, though, and on one day toward the end of shooting, two units working simultaneously on the production racked up an impressive 91 camera setups.

"That's a record for the most setups in any movie," said Howard. And a star was born again.

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