Arts & Entertainment

Discovering Your Unique Voice

Mira Nair

Lesson time 13:24 min

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.

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

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


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...

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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Mira Nair

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

Explore the Class
Sign Up