Film & TV

Scene Workshop, Part 3: Final Take

Mira Nair

Lesson time 12:42 min

In Part 3 of Mira’s scene workshop, Mira breaks down how actors Philip Luswata and Madina Nalwanga work with Mira’s direction to enhance their performances.

Mira Nair
Teaches Independent Filmmaking
The Oscar-nominated director teaches her methods for directing powerful performances, maximizing budgets, and bringing authentic stories to life.
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So now, I want you to go into that kind of place where you have lost something that is precious to you. You are a very determined young person. And you're also a very competitive person, you know. You've lost the competition. But you feel ashamed that you have done that in the presence of the whole world, you know, where you forced yourself to come. Everyone said you're too young, but you have not listened. - Yeah. - You have not listened, not because you are wanting only to win and have glory. You have actually come here because you hoped you could be a champion and win a stipend, win the prize money that would help your family, you know? But now you're in this place where, in front of everyone, this much older, 25-year-old Canadian champion has basically systematically, over three hours, not let you move anything in your game. And when you decide to leave, it's like, you just don't want to obey anyone. You just want to go away from the lights, go away from people, just run away. You don't even think. You're in a foreign place and you don't know where to go. OK? So you've run through the snow now. You've run through it. You actually crying. And you come to this. And you just find a place to hide, OK? You're not thinking. You're not thinking at all clearly, you know? It's hard to do that. You know, it's hard to do that. But I just want you to remember when you felt like this, you know? When you wanted something, and you worked for it really hard, and it was taken away from you. Not just taken away from you quietly, but taken away from you in front of everyone. So you want to hide. Yeah? Don't run into it. Don't rush into it. There's no one way, you know? But I want you to really be in that space. And I can come with you, and we can-- just to get you into what that might feel like. And then we'll shoot it, and we have time. There's no problem, OK? And there's no one way, you know? As long as you are remembering, you know, what it is like to feel. So come. Let's walk there and we'll see. - OK. - But this is tough. Tough times. Now you are older. You can understand. But then-- I mean, when you're a child, it's very difficult, you know? And a brilliant child. Somebody who has a gift, you know, to win. And she's lost. You know? So, Miles, when she stands up, we'll know she's ready. - OK. - OK? Medina? Action, whenever you're ready. - OK. [EMOTIONAL BREATHING] - Ah, please. Fiona, I told you never to leave the team. - I will never be a master. I'll never be good enough. - I will tell you from experience, Fiona. Some of us always start on the outside. But it does not mean that is where we are meant to stay. - I sell maize, Coach. I sell maize. My job was to get 1,000 shillings a day. And I knew how to do that. Me, I've never cried before. Not even the day my sister died. But look at me now. Look at me now. How is it that chess has destroyed my life now? How? How is it that it can ma...

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.

So interesting to listen to such a strong woman, with a great passion for stories. I have learnt so much from this masterclass and I really enjoyed the practical shooting of the scene section. Would love to see more of this in future masterclasses.

this has really helped my creative process, thanks a lot Mira.

Deep, and evocative teaching. Mira Nair made the lecture seem like a beautiful story, and yet she managed to throw to the students of this course the most fundamental elements of filmmaking. Kudos to Mira!

What I valued most about this class and what I felt for example was missing in the Annie Leibovitz class was Mira sharing her thought process. That was extremely valuable, whether one agrees with her thinking and conclusions or not. Loved the way she puts things across. Passionate and intelligent is such a powerful combination.


A fellow student

This is why we as directors owe our actors and actresses our best competence, empathy, courage, insight, responsibility, leadership, tenacity, vision, focus and compassion if we are to receive genuine performance. A privilege to watch Mira and Madina, and Philip, achieve such a moving result.

Graeme R.

Amazing skill in directing actors. Only after the final take did I notice the tears in my eyes. You are my hero, Mira Nair!

R.G. R.

Mira's guidance worked. I think her style could and has worked with the experienced actor as much as the inexperienced actor. She gives much so that there are more choices for the actor, especially in the way she directed Madina.

William C.

Through this whole 3 part exercise, it felt like Mira was maybe over-directing Madina and putting too many thoughts in her head, but ultimately, it lead to a beautiful performance. I think the magic happened through Mira giving Madina permission to let go, and just the primal truth in working her up right before the last take. Very powerful.

Franco E.

Watching a master at work and how she builds the scene and directs the actors... amazing! Thank you Mira!

Ify M.

Wow...Madina finally let go. This shows me that: 1) Directing needs a lot of patience. 2) You love your actors to getting results by tapping into the truth of the emotion being demonstrated. Thank you Mira...these practical lessons are wrh more than a thousand words.

Constance A.

Awesome! The way Mira was able to bring that emotion out of the actor..It was great! kudos' to the actress as well!

Karmen B.

Wonderful directing, Mira. Thank you for this opportunity to witness your work first hand.

Andrew Kyle B.

What Ron Howard's class did for blocking and shooting, Mira Nair's class has done for working with actors and direction. Truly incredible.


That was great to see how Mira got her to get to the point where she needed to be.