Arts & Entertainment


Mira Nair

Lesson time 15:16 min

Learn the benefits of working closely with an editor throughout shooting, and how to use rhythm and juxtaposition of scenes in the edit to alter the mood of your film.

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

Topics include: Find an Editor with Musical Rhythm • Involve Your Editor • Live With the Edit • Juxtapose to Open Up New Emotions • Feel the Energy of an Audience • Add Layers in Post


I remember the excitement. I felt when I first met Barry Brown, who then consequently edited several of my films. I had seen a documentary of his, "The War at Home," and I was making documentaries at the time. And to see the boldness and incredible, almost bravery of the cutting of elliptically going into scenes and the way he layered scenes-- was unafraid of a parallel cutting. And moving something completely along with elliptical gaps in each one that really told a story very quickly, economically, and especially, musically. I was extremely excited. And I asked him to cut one of my early documentaries, "India Cabaret," which had all these qualities of music, and performance, and drama. But it had to be cut in that inventive way that Barry brought to the table. And he later cut "Salaam Bombay!" and also, "Queen of Katwe," my last film. So it's the excitement of seeing how they untraditionally used the form that first got me excited about editing with Barry Brown. And then consequently, when he couldn't cut "Monsoon Wedding," he sent me one of his great proteges who now is a brilliant editor in her right, Allyson Johnson-- who cut several films of mine, as well. I think musical rhythm in an editor-- for me-- says a lot. How somebody responds to music and how some editors cut images to music. Rhythm is the essence of editing in cinema. And rhythm is ineffable. You can't quite put your finger on it. But rhythm is the essence really, of how a story is told. And editing is the most exciting part of filmmaking-- for me-- after shooting because you really, it's the third rewrite-- as someone says. There's several ways to rewrite a picture, but it's the editing that is the final rewrite, where you can totally create almost a new structure if you wish. [MUSIC PLAYING] I share the scripts usually in the second or third draft, with my editor. Before we go on to shoot. Normally, that's not necessarily anything more than saying here's what I'm doing. Maybe what do you think of it, et cetera. But we normally don't get into the cutting style, or the editing style, or talking of the details before the film is shot-- normally. Throughout the shooting, I like to have the editor with me. Again, I'm attracted to the ensemble film. I'm attracted to the carnival of life. So a lot of times, the integrating cutting of stories, the following the thread line of one story and paralleling it with another-- all that is much more of the editor's vocabulary. So I want to be sure while I'm cutting that I'm not, not thinking of certain things, which the editor may be thinking of. While I'm shooting-- as I said before-- I'm always creating a separate bank of images that I know will come into play in some way. And will help us with the editing. So all this fodder is given to the editor. And as we are shooting, a week into shooting-- for instance-- I'll begin to see an assembly of what I'm trying to do. And also of what, maybe, we might have missed....

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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