From Mira Nair's MasterClass

Discovering Your Unique Voice

Mira’s philosophy for filmmaking is rooted in individuality and creating films only you can make. Learn how to forge your own path, hone your craft, and use your distinctiveness to your advantage.

Topics include: Preserve Your Distinctiveness • Find Your Craft Your Own Way • Don’t Worry About Finding an Audience • Pursue Films Only You Can Make


Mira’s philosophy for filmmaking is rooted in individuality and creating films only you can make. Learn how to forge your own path, hone your craft, and use your distinctiveness to your advantage.

Topics include: Preserve Your Distinctiveness • Find Your Craft Your Own Way • Don’t Worry About Finding an Audience • Pursue Films Only You Can Make

Mira Nair

Teaches Independent Filmmaking

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We go to the movies to have a collective experience that lifts us up or that sinks us, too, but that somehow transports us to either a world that we have never seen, in which we see and feel that there is resonance, and that there is commonality, and that you can see, actually, yourself, despite it being somewhere miles away from you and in a language that you've never seen before. We make movies to transport you, to uplift you, and I hope, sometimes, to give one hope, you know, of how to see something that you had closed your mind on, or you never knew existed, but how that can give you a way to look at the world anew. This is a big thing for me is-- is how to do something without being a lecture about it, without it being-- feeling like homework, with having a sense of, for me, fun, and mischief, and light, and color, and life, and incredible brutality, but jammed with tenderness of some sort, you know. That kind of balancing act is what I like to do in my films, in terms of trying to combine what the world actually is full of, which is brutality and tenderness, you know, which is extremes of sorts. And human beings live that extreme in every way of our journeys, you know. And so, you know, I will tell you be unafraid. If you feel-- you know, you are not a foreigner to yourself. You come from somewhere. Your roots are strong. And do not diffuse them, you know. Go into them and-- and learn the craft of telling a story. That is a craft that should be learned and can be learned. But don't be afraid of putting yourself, and your work, and your culture, and your language, and your, you know, people, even, in the forefront of your drama, of your art, and of your craft. You know, being a brown person, you know, in a sea of black and white, when I first came to America at 18, 19, was a interesting lesson of how to preserve my own distinctiveness, rather than becoming part of the gang, you know. I did not come there to melt into the melting pot. I came very much knowing where my roots are. And I always believe it's my roots, because my roots are strong, that I can fly. [MUSIC PLAYING] I never studied fiction film. I never went to school for it. I went to school, in a sense, to study documentary filmmaking. And my school really was the world in which I did that. In making cinema verite documentary, which is essentially unmanipulated documentary-- choosing a subject, choosing a world that you enter in, and then filming it-- it is a crazy profession because you don't quite know what that day is going to yield. You don't know if you're crazy to do-- to follow a subway newsstand worker as he goes back to his boarding house in Queens. What will he dream about? What will you capture? What will he do? And so many days would pass, where I would think, what am I doing here? You know, what is going to happen next? But the nature of cinema verite documentary is that I would film for four to six to eight months not knowing where t...

Harness the power of your roots

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned how to direct. She explained it with so many details including all of the great natural sounds. Such a blessing 🙏

So much great information and tips will help me in the future

It's the guidance how to proceed with the film making. Appreciate the effort being put by the masters to share their insights and the wisdom gained from years of work with the students of film making to produce artistic and expressive moving images.

oh i so so enjoyed this wonderful woman's guidance even though I am a photographer I now get alot more from her to improve my want to pull from people emotion...and seeing how she works all aspects of her craft and the collaborative way in which she works inspires me to better mine. thank you Mira....The Ugandan School looks like a hidden gem!! I will pass it on.



Thank you for these encouraging words. Fear and a lack of confidence is the reason so many of us don't get out there and do this work.

Eli E.

I loved this wise message and encouragement. I am so new to this. I am an actor and I am working on my first short film. What a valuable lesson. Thank you.


Thanks for this original lesson Mrs Nair. Awesome. I am unable to download the PDF - Error reported here.

Ify M.

Thank you Mira, This assignment made me dig deep into my past and opened my eyes to see how my current perspective based on various factors can shape my storytelling.


So glad she encourages us to make my own film, with my own vision and in my own ways. As I am making my second feature film at the moment, I am for sure going through many of the situations she mentioned and I feel so much better that it is okay for me to not want to be a part of the pack. Thank you.

Partha B.

Yes, I can totally identify with what she said: is it your story? Or, you're doing somebody else's? Mimicking? I have seen most of her films, and I was particularly blown away by the power of Salam Bombay and Mississippi Masala, because they were so real. Not Slumdog Millionaire. Not Born Into Brothels. She showed us for real the race situation in America, especially in the Indian immigrant community. Nobody else ever did it, before or after.

R.G. R.

Her own experience speaks as loudly as her true and dynamic words that suggests one needs to discover one's own voice. This is not an easy thing to do, but her own experience as a filmmaker proves that it is worth it. It is about the art, not the fame or acknowledgement that comes from it.

Thank you Masterclass for being more inclusive of women of color. Indian filmakers often do not get their due on western platforms unless they are selling the western stereotype. It's wonderful to hear Mira Nair's unapologetic commentary.

Sylvie B.

Sometimes I fee it's an honor to listen to some of the teachers here. It's an honor to listen to you. To watch you Beautiful soul..... Thank you.

Dex D.

So hard to find some of the films in our homework without Filmstruck. Can't wait for the Criterion channel to come out so I can hit her suggestions. I watched Chronicle of Summer on Vimeo but no subtitles. Still a fascinating watch. Anyone find a subtitled version somewhere?