Howard made his first film "Chalk" in 1967 as a student at Leeds. Shot on the precipitous cliffs of Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire it went onto be screened at the NFT and was listed in the BFI's Top Ten Amateur Shorts of that year.
After graduating, he got his first job as a tea boy on "Alfred the Great", which was shot on location in Ireland. He worked for five years as an assistant director on feature films before becoming a TV commercials producer in 1973 at Perkins & Partners.
In 1977 he founded Guard & Vittle and started directing TV commercials, moving into partnership with Tony and Ridley Scott at RSA2 in 1980. Throughout the 80's he enjoyed extensive work in America, bringing many productions back to England to be produced by his own company Howard Guard Productions which he formed in 1984. A number of his adverts from this period are in the archives of MOMA in New York.