Arts & Entertainment

Developing a Visual Palette

Mira Nair

Lesson time 21:53 min

Mira discusses what a visual point of view is, how to manifest your point of view through a lookbook, and how to collaborate with your team to elevate the aesthetic of your film.

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Topics include: Have a Point of View • Prepare a Lookbook and Manifesto • Share Every Possible Reference • Work With People Who Take You Further • Maximize Your Locations • Use Color to Heighten the Intention


In making stories about whatever culture that you're making a story of, you know, it's important to have a point of view about it, a point of view certainly about the story, but equally, a point of view of the aesthetic and of the design of the story, you know? And I really stay very clear of the kind of stereotypical notion of, say, India. You know, India, oh, that brightly colored place where you point your camera in any direction, and it's a picture. I can't stand that line, because it's devoid of actual point of view. But the aesthetic is always muddied with, you know, bright colors, you know, people in costume, as they call us, you know, and-- and so on. And-- but India is many things, you know? So for instance, in the Mehndi scene, in the women's scene in "Monsoon Wedding," where they gather to get their henna put and sing songs of marriage, life, to the bride, it's a fun event that happens in our Indian weddings. Oh, you know, Arjun and I, we chose a very particular palette, so that everyone wouldn't come in in kind of their gaudiest, blingiest best. I can't bear that. You know? And we-- we created a palette of indigo, of ochre, of burgundy, of colors that are also very specific to India, that I absolutely love. And we-- and we showed this palette to all our friends who were coming in as extras, because remember, "Monsoon Wedding" was full of freebies. People came in their own clothes, they came, you know, with their paintings, and their crockery, and their saris. And everything was donated, really, to this film, so that it looked like a spectacle, but really was made for very little. So they came in the palette that we determined, you know? And it's a very different palette, if you look at the scene. It's not just a un-thought-through, you know, picture of brightness and gaudiness. You know, so you have to have a handle on what you do. And it all reflects your own aesthetics, and what you want, and what you're asking your costume designer to give you, or your people to give you. You know, you have to ask for it. You have to say, this, not that. [MUSIC PLAYING] In the personal films, in-- in films like "Salaam Bombay!", or "Namesake," or "Monsoon Wedding," in the-- in the films that just come from within me, that I have to make, you know, normally, the lookbook I do myself. I make a lookbook of, from my own libraries, of visual inspiration, you know? Usually they are photographs. There could be a light in an advertisement that I like, that I cut out and I keep with me. You know, this sort of measure of blue is what I want when so-and-so does this. You know, I-- I gather a whole sort of manifesto of visual references. I gather photographs, a lot of music. Often music is a very big part of evoking a world for me. It may not be the music that is eventually in the film, but it evokes the film. And hugely a-- you know, it depends on the film. In the "Kama Sutra," which was set in 16th century, you know, we went into the ...

About the Instructor

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mira Nair approaches directing with the “heart of a poet and the skin of an elephant,” spurred by rejection and fighting to bring uncompromising stories to film. In the Golden Lion-winning director’s MasterClass, learn to make a big impact on a small budget in film production, evoke the best from actors and nonactors, and protect your creative vision so you tell the story that can only come from you.

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Mira Nair

The Oscar-nominated director teaches her methods for directing powerful performances, maximizing budgets, and bringing authentic stories to life.

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