Inducted into ACS Hall of Fame – 2008
Born in 1944, David became infatuated with cameras and photography during his years at school. Upon leaving school he managed to get a job with a Hobart stills photographer and learnt a great deal about camera technique and dark room procedures. In 1966, he realised his dream of becoming a cinematographer when he was accepted as an assistant into the ABC-TV Hobart newsroom, there he was quick to learn the operating of a cine-camera along with the art of capturing news events with strong effective and sometimes emotive story-telling images.
On Tuesday, February 7, 1967 bushfires ravaged Tasmania, killing 62 people. By chance, the ABC’s two most experienced cameramen were away from Tasmania, so there was no choice but to send Brill out to film the fire. This was the first time he confronted the news cinematographer’s dilemma of whether to get the shot or help the victim. The young trainee tried to do both, but still managed to shoot brilliant and horrifying footage. The brilliant footage he shot that tragic day opened doors to a life of travel and adventure as a combat cameraman.
From there-on David developed into one of Australia’s leading news cinematographers, and one of the world’s most respected video-journalists. Since then he has covered news and current affairs in many parts of the world. Has been posted to New York, Moscow, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan and Africa representing Australia’s TV news organisations. His career regularly placing him in many dangerous war zones: Vietnam, Cambodia, Chad, Afghanistan etc. His courageous filming yielding images with a deep feeling for the human consequences of war.
In 1972, Brill spent a couple of years free-lance, based in Hong Kong, then returned to the ABC. The next years of his career were spent primarily working for the ABC, both on staff and on contract, based not only in Sydney, but also in places such as Port Moresby, New York, Moscow and Hanoi. In 2003, he started working as a video journalist for the SBS current affairs program Dateline.
At SBS, his personally engaged and humanistic approach has resulted in United Nations Media Peace awards for his stories Good Morning Vietnam and Chad – Crisis in The Desert.
David Brill, along with Peter Donnelly, was an inaugural member of the Tasmanian Branch of the ACS in the mid-1960s. In 2008, he was inaugurated into the ACS Hall of Fame.