Not your average Winter Break: senior to shoot documentary

While the rest of the College’s students study for finals and start packing to go home for Winter Break, Genevieve Faust, senior interactive multimedia and communication studies major, is preparing for a trip she called “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

On Dec. 20, Faust will be boarding a plane to Liberia, where she will work on shooting video for a documentary about The MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF). According to Faust, the foundation raises money to help support and educate children in Liberia.

Faust will be traveling with Tammy Tibbetts, who graduated from the College last year.

“In Liberia, (Tibbetts) will be volunteering as well as helping me direct the documentary,” Faust said. “It’ll be great to have a friend there to keep me on track and give me some new ideas that I might not have thought of on my own.”

They first became involved with Cooper last year while working on a digital storytelling project titled, “Liberia’s Angel: The Story of MacDella Cooper,” which inspired the documentary.

“At one point while we were working on the project, MacDella took a few weeks to visit Liberia,” Faust said. “I wished that we could go with her to get some video for our site. We couldn’t travel with her then, but we didn’t let go of the idea of a documentary. Then she gave us the opportunity to volunteer with her in Liberia and I knew making a documentary would be a great experience for me and would be beneficial for her foundation, as well.”

According to Faust, each year, MCF holds a Christmas party for more than 600 orphans. She will be volunteering at the event, which will be held in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, while filming for the documentary.

Faust said her family is worried about the trip, but they understand the importance of what she will be doing and the passion she has for the project.

Since Faust’s travel experience is limited to a semester abroad in France, she said she is excited about having the opportunity to get experience with making documentaries and the chance to volunteer with an organization close to her heart. However, she does have a few worries of her own.

“Getting all the vaccinations we needed was a reality check about where we are going,” Faust said. “I’m also kind of nervous because I only get one chance to go over there and get the story for the documentary. It’s a lot of pressure. If I mess something up, there’s not going to be another opportunity to fix it.”

Her love of editing videos began in high school, when she would shoot music videos starring her sisters. Now, with the help of her professors at the College, Faust feels ready to take her filmmaking to a higher level.

“I think by making my own documentary, I’m getting more knowledge about video production and post-production,” Faust said. “(My professors) have given me suggestions about equipment. They’ve told me which type of shots I need to make sure I get with the video camera when I’m in Liberia. . I’m also making a complementary Web site to go with the documentary, so I think that this project is allowing me to combine all of the skills that I’ve learned here at (the College) into one cohesive project.”

Through the documentary, Faust hopes to show how Cooper’s foundation is making a difference. With the help of Tibbetts’ connections at Hearst Magazine, Faust wants the documentary to bring media attention to the work of MCF.

“I want to use the documentary to build a portrait of (Cooper) and show the importance of her foundation and its work,” Faust said. “I want to stress the impact that she has made in her war-torn nation while also showing her hardships as a child and her growth as an individual. I think that if people hear her story and see her work, they’ll support her foundation and be inspired to do other things to make a difference.”

For more information about Faust’s project and MCF, visit