Shrum medallist's passion for film transformed his life

June 05, 2006, volume 36, no. 3
By Diane Luckow

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Each year, SFU bestows its most prestigious medal - the Gordon Shrum gold medal - on a graduating student whose high scholastic standing and extra-curricular activities demonstrate outstanding qualities of character and unselfish devotion to SFU.

This year, David Brigden, who is graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree, receives the honour. He has put so much energy into his chosen field of study, both as a student and as a volunteer, that it's not unusual for him to work around the clock.

It's a surprising output, considering that Brigden suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for 10 years. The debilitating disease prevented him from graduating from high school and sidelined any thoughts of a career. Finally, he found a doctor who advised him to relax - to spend his time doing what he enjoyed. So he turned to reading and watching films and chose work in low-stress jobs. Gradually, his bouts of fatigue waned, while his interest in reading, writing and film grew into a life's passion.

That's when he decided to complete high school and take theatre and then film-making, at SFU.

During Brigden's six years at SFU, his passion for film-making transformed his life. “When you're working with all of these great people who are passionate about their work, it's contagious,” says Brigden.

He served as the school for the contemporary arts' film area representative for four years, fostering his philosophy that personal success comes from contributing to, and sharing in, the success of others. He spent countless volunteer hours assisting fellow students with their productions, serving as camera operator, dolly grip, producer, director, writer, sound mixer, editor, even reluctant actor in 18 student film shorts. His volunteer work also stretched to the external film community and to fundraising activities for organizations like the 24 hour Relay for Kids and the Pitt Meadows Soccer Association. “When you're excited and love what you're doing, you can find energy reserves,” he says.

Through it all, he found time to write and produce a number of his own short films. One of them, Ms. Lead, was nominated for best comedy, Canadian Aspirations Film Festival, 2002. The national Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television short-listed him for its 2005 student apprenticeship in cinematography, a rare honour.

In his final year, Brigden spearheaded a move to bring the film program's fourth-year film screening to the Ridge Theatre in Vancouver in order to accommodate a larger audience. Amid the pressures of completing his own graduating film, he conceived the slogan, posters and programs for the event, which recorded ticket sales of 700, a significant increase over the past.

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