Though she’s not an athlete, Akilah Browne ’11 was running all day during the seventh annual Musselman Triathlon.
With the guidance of Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer, Browne has been busily working on a documentary about the triathlon and learning about the Geneva community along the way. She is a media and society and public policy double major who was introduced to documentary filmmaking in “Introduction to Social Documentaries.”
“At first, I was doing this because of my interest in making documentaries,” says Browne. As she became more engrossed in the project, her perspective changed. “As I started doing the research for the triathlon, I realized that Mussleman itself is a great story.”
The amount of involvement on the part of the Geneva community amazed Browne. The triathlon attempts to keep all aspects of the race within the community and supports and utilizes local businesses whenever possible. The event also included an art triathlon, a mural painting and a MusselKids race with a family focus.
Browne found that, beyond capturing the community spirit on film, she wanted to be a part of the charity component of the Musselman, which benefits the Community Lunch Program and the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva. “Making a film is always rewarding for me, and with this triathlon in particular, it was rewarding for the volunteers as well. Every one of us was able to experience a part of Geneva that we hadn’t seen before.”
Although familiar with film making, filming the Triathlon was a learning experience for Browne. Because the race events span two days and many different athletic competitions, getting footage proved difficult. “It required a lot of planning ahead and the ability to delegate,” says Browne, who recruited the help of 13 HWS student volunteers to collect footage from different points of the race and different events.
However, Browne says there was something more important to take away from this experience. “If I am learning anything, it’s not so much about how to make a documentary; it’s more about how to reflect the beauty of the Finger Lakes and its familial atmosphere through a camera.”
Browne is currently in the process of interviewing the director of the race, Jeff Henderson, as well as participants to include with the footage she has gathered. Once the documentary is completed, it will be added to the Musselman website and used as a promotional video for next year’s triathlon.