Arts & Entertainment

Scene Workshop, Part 1: Read-Through and Blocking

Mira Nair

Lesson time 17:53 min

In Part 1 of Mira’s scene workshop, Mira works with two actors—Madina Nalwanga and Philip Luswata—from Queen of Katwe to teach you how to direct intensely emotional scenes.

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Topics include: Scene Workshop, Part 1: Read-Through and Blocking


Phiona! - - Phiona! I told you, never leave the group. - I'll never be a master. I'll never be good enough. And you know it, Coach. I sell maize, coach. I sell maize. I know how to do that. But now you see me, see how chess has disturbed me. I'll never belong to it, and this will never be my place! - Here. Now, slow down. Slow down. Losing does not mean you're a failure. It just takes time. That's all. Stamina. Huh? That is the key. - I wish you had never taught me this game. - Phiona. Phiona. - Welcome to the workshop of "The Queen of Katwe," a film I made a few years ago. We are doing one scene just as a workshop of how to direct actors and the cinematographer. This is Philip Luswata, one of Uganda's leading actors, who played in the film. But today he is playing the role that David Oyelowo played, as the coach Robert Katende in "Queen of Katwe." Madina Nalwanga, who played Phiona Mutesi, the young, brilliant girl who came out of Katwe community, just 15 minutes away from here, who then rose to become a chess champion. Madina is what? Three years older than she was when she played Phiona. And this is Myles Goodall, who was one of the cinematographers of "Queen of Katwe," and who is now helping shooting this scene in a workshop format. So let's-- one thing I just would like my students here to know is that the relationship that I have with Madina would have been done way in advance of this meeting. In reality we've spent what? Years together now. We've spent years together. We have a great relationship, I think. - Right. - And we-- I have created through a series of workshops, through a series of exercises, through also a lot of work together, filming the entire film of "Queen of Katwe," and also we live as neighbors here in Uganda for now many years. And she is a part of my family. I am so privileged really to be able to say that. So I am taking this liberty of not sharing with you that history of our relationship, because we've already created one. And we are using that relationship, and the warmth, and the trust that we've built over literally years to bring to you this workshop exercise of how to make a scene hopefully work. This scene, guys, is-- we are not in Russia. The scene is written for Russia. Phiona Mutesi insists to go and represent Uganda in an Olympics chess championship. And people think she is premature to do that, but she is such a sort of smart and determined young player that she has wanted to go there. A large part of this is because you know that as a champion you would get a stipend, money for her family that would keep you all going, and alive. And that's why you're determined to get your family out of poverty, get your family working on and living on the earnings of you as a chess champion. So you've insisted on going to Russia. - OK. - We are now not in Maisha. We are not in this gorgeous garden. We are in Russia. The sn...

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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