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Film School was right choice for Oscar-nominated docu filmmaker Lucy Walker

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   Lucy Walker's film Waste Land was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and Independent Lens will air it April 19 on PBS.
   It is just one of her many impressive productions (Devil's Playground, Blindsight), so it was interesting to hear Walker's response when asked-- Which is the best investment a filmmaker can make-- Grad School for Film, or make a film? She says, "I was super-lucky, as I had scholarships to help pay for most of my going to NYU Grad Film school. And also I had a lot to learn as I had never made a film before, and also I got a visa to come to NYC, so for me film school was a dream package."
   But she acknowledges that "It is awfully expensive, and if I'd been in a different position I wouldn't have been able to go to NYU. I just advised a friend to leave film school and spend the money on a project. It can be a lot of debt to build up and head into an uncertain industry."
  Then again, she says what's great about film school is that you "learn a lot, meet a great group of peers, and it really forces you to concentrate on making your projects. If I hadn't been at film school, it would have been so much harder for me to actually finish my short films, concentrate on my own projects, not work for other people, all that." So she says it's really a personal case-by-case question for every individual.
   Waste Land follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who travels to his native Rio de Janiero to create portraits of the local trash pickers out of the garbage they collect at the world's largest landfill. Walker had another film out last year called Countdown to Zero, about nuclear weapons, which she calls "the most urgent and important subject. And very scary."
   Walker calls working in the documentary film business an interesting journey, and refers to the last 15 years of non fiction films the "golden age of documentaries."

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