Independent filmmaking is one of the hardest yet most rewarding professions out there.
Choosing a suitable cast, gathering the right crew who you can depend on, and collecting enough money to support your free film school are just a few of the struggles that come with making a film independently, however, it doesn’t need to be this daunting.
Mira Nair is one of the most popular and well-respected independent filmmakers in the world and while she may have started making out educational documentary filmmaking, very soon she began making independent films and inspirational films where she portrayed authentic Indian culture to a national audience.
At the end of 2020, Mira announced her MasterClass series where she would guide aspiring filmmakers through the process of creating an independent film which has had her huge fanbase waiting in feverous anticipation ever since, and now that it’s here, was it really worth the wait? Keep reading this Mira Nair MasterClass review to find out.
Who Is Mira Nair?
Indian filmmaker Mira Nair first became known for filming several documentaries that explored Indian culture through an extensive range of interviews with people hailing from all walks of life.
While her first documentary ‘Jama Masjid Street Journal’ was shot in black and white and only 18 minutes long, just a few years later Mira, with her friend Sooni Taraporevala, wrote and directed ‘Salaam Bombay’, arguably Mira Nair’s most popular feature film that sought to portray the ‘street children’ of India in an authentic and honest light that had never been exposed to western audiences before.
Mira Nair is also a Venice film festival award winner and one of the best independent filmmaking celebrities in the film industry.
While Mira began her filmmaking career with little more than a feverous passion for the artistry, her films and documentaries have gone on to capture the imaginations and interest of audiences worldwide and with a Golden Lion award to her name, along with a Pride of India award and recently the Padma Bhushan which is the third-highest civilian Indian award that can be granted, there is no one better to host an online learning filmmaking class than her.
What Is Included In Mira Nair’s MasterClass?
As part of Mira Nair’s 4-and-a-half-hour MasterClass, the acclaimed filmmaker aims to cover all aspects of independent filmmaking including how to find your own personal cinematic style, how to do a scene workshop on a small budget, and how to find and work with the right collaborators.
In this Masterclass, Mira Nair teaches independent filmmaking courses are specifically tailored towards the creative vision and those who have known they want to become a filmmaker for quite some time and know their way around a camera and some of the other basic parts of filmmaking with this long and in-depth course being designed to advance your knowledge and equip you with the experience and knowledge needed to become a fully-fledged independent filmmaker with a unique voice.
Positives Of Mira Nair’s MasterClass
17 Informative And Varied Lessons
With 17 lessons available and with each one being just 15 minutes long, not only does this masterClass give you the ability to go through at your own pace, making it a lot less demanding than many other filmmaking classes, but each episode also contains a great mix of first-hand expert information, practical lessons and examples from Mira’s very own experience as a filmmaker.
For example, in lesson 3 where Mira explains about finding the right story to tell, the 15-minute episode covers how to draw inspiration from current social events before then discussing how to find the right collaborator for a story and finally, how Mira drew ideas for her hit film ‘Monsoon Wedding’.
Working On A Budget
She may now be one of the most well-acclaimed screenwriters in the world, but Mira teaches and still remembers what it’s like for many aspiring filmmakers who have big ambitions but small budgets, and this shows as Mira makes sure to talk about each of the many aspects that go into filmmaking while always proceeding to say how these can be achieved on a strict budget.
This makes the class incredibly accessible to any aspiring filmmaker whether they be a university student or someone with a bit more experience, Mira makes sure to appeal to the intended audience at all times.
Extra Workbook Included
Alongside the 17 lessons, upon subscribing to the class you will also gain immediate access to an incredibly handy 66-page workbook which includes chapter reviews, assignments to complete, and a full glossary.
Not only is this a great addition to read through between each of the lessons to recap what you just went through, but it’s also an incredibly detailed and thorough document that you can use any time that you may need it in the future.
Incredibly In-Depth Details
One positive that really helps Maira’s class stand out from many of her peers is just how many small but incredibly important filmmaking details she includes in each of her sessions.
In lesson 5 for example where she discusses casting, Mira not only covers how to find the right actors for a particular role, but she also discusses how to work with actors who are both professional and novice, how to prepare child actors for a role and even how to make each actor as comfortable as possible when they’re not in front of the camera.
Along with contextual information on acting in Indian cinema in comparison to the rest of the world, each lesson is packed with far more than just their titles.
Negatives Of Mira Nair’s MasterClass
Quite Fast Paced
While each lesson is packed full of information because they only reach up to 15 minutes in length, it does mean that Mira can rush through some parts or only cover them vaguely, and while the textbook does help fill in these gaps, for some episodes it can feel like they would benefit from being just a little longer so that the smaller aspects can be fleshed out a little more.
No Communication With Mira
Many people sign up for a MasterClass to learn from the experts themselves. Part of this usually involves contacting the host directly so they can respond to any queries or questions on topics that may not have been covered in the regular lesson plan.
Unfortunately, there is no sub-section or feature in Mira’s class to chat or pose questions to her directly. While this is understandable since she must be incredibly busy in her career, it’s a feature that many other classes tend to have which can make it a drawback for some.
Overall, for the $15 monthly MasterClass fee, Mira Nair’s class is well worth it for aspiring independent filmmakers, with each of the expertly paced lessons being packed full of information, tips, and practical sessions to guide you through each and every part of filmmaking with the budget limitations being kept in mind each step of the way.
It would have been nice to have a feature to enable students to contact Mira directly, however, this isn’t a dealbreaker since most of what would be needed to know is still included in the in-depth lessons.
The course does admittedly move along incredibly quickly which can mean that some topics get a little less attention than we would have liked, however, the fantastic workbook helps to alleviate this issue slightly and makes this course well worth the price.