Celebrated filmmaker Mira Nair — whose films include “Monsoon Wedding” and “The Namesake” — is launching her first online class, in which she’ll share insights for aspiring auteurs.
Her class on independent filmmaking is being offered exclusively through internet education platform MasterClass. In the course, Nair shares her directing methods, pointers on maximizing budgets, and how to bring authentic stories to the screen.
Nair’s class is available now on MasterClass’s website (at masterclass.com/mn), priced at $90 for lifetime access to the series of video tutorials and other materials. MasterClass also offers a $180 annual plan, which grants unlimited access to all new and existing classes from its full lineup of celebrity instructors.
“I wanted to teach this MasterClass to demystify the process of what it takes to make an idea come alive on screen,” Nair said. “The fact is that there is great power in telling our stories. It is something that can be done if one applies oneself to the understanding of the craft, the understanding of the narrative. My mantra is that if we don’t tell our own stories, no one else will.”
MasterClass, which launched in 2015, currently features a lineup of more than 45 celebrity-led courses. Those include classes from entertainment figures including Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Werner Herzog, Steve Martin, Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Judd Apatow, David Mamet, Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood and Dan Brown.
Nair’s career spans more than three decades, with films including “Mississippi Masala,” “Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake,” and most recently “Queen of Katwe,” starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. Nair’s adaptation of “A Suitable Boy” for the BBC is set to be released in 2020. A graduate of Delhi University and Harvard, Nair got her start directing documentaries before making the jump to feature films with her narrative debut, “Salaam Bombay!”, in 1988, which won the Camera d’Or and was nominated for an Oscar.
The native of India said her home country is “a place where movies are a part of our oxygen, yet the training of filmmaking is not accessible to all.” She said it’s even more difficult for filmmakers in Africa, where she also lives, which is why she helped found Maisha, a free film school for East African filmmakers, 14 years ago.
In her MasterClass, Nair will walk students through directing techniques for eliciting the best performances from actors and non-actors; how to use rhythm and juxtaposition of scenes in editing to alter the mood of a film; and how to protect their own creative vision. In a workshop of a scene from 2016’s “Queen of Katwe,” Nair shows how she worked with the two actors all the way from the first read-through to the shooting of an emotionally powerful take.
Nair said her favorite lesson in the MasterClass course was the one on directing actors, “because you are able to witness in actuality the process and the alchemy that can happen between directors and actors.”
MasterClass CEO and co-founder David Rogier commented, “Since the release of ‘Mississippi Masala’ in the early ’90s, Mira has been making independent films that transcend borders and cultures, and captivate audiences with authentic and bold storytelling. She unapologetically tells the stories that she wants to tell in the way that she wants to tell them, and encourages her students to do the same.”
Watch the trailer for Mira Nair’s MasterClass below: