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Remembering Harrison McClure

As doleful clouds congregated over Santa Fe University of Art and Design on Sept. 1, family, friends, students and faculty filed into the heart of the Film School. Strangers and friends alike gathered to honor the memory of film student Harrison McClure. Harrison was fatally injured on Aug. 22, in a car accident on his way from Austin, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico to finish what he loved at SFUAD, primarily directing, cinematography and editing. Outside of his major, Harrison spent copious amounts of time with his friends, playing dodge ball, listening to pirate music and appreciating film.

Vic Bell speaking at the memorial.

Vic Bell speaking at the memorial. Photo by Chris Dorantes.

“I could share probably a million memories with Harrison, at any given time,” Vic Bell, a close friend of Harrison’s said as she cuddled a stuffed sloth and bravely stood before the service attendees. “We spent a lot of time just sitting in his room watching cartoons or watching Hot Fuzz which we pretty much could recite from memory. But we would just kind of stare at it and make film jokes… half of which I understood. I’m going to treasure those moments forever.” She gestured heavily with her hands still gripping the sloth tightly. Harrison and Bell were planning to rent an apartment together for the coming semester and naming their humble abode “The Dreaded Paradise” as if it were a pirate ship.

The memorial was held at The Screen. It began quietly, each individual spoke no louder than a murmur, some didn’t speak at all. Sobbing friends and tense strangers mingled around one another to find a seat, everyone sporadically scattered throughout the theater. Harrison’s parents, Brian and Elizabeth McClure, sat in the front row receiving condolences and wholehearted hugs. A close friend trembled into the room, hugging a bundle of sunflowers tight to her chest as her friend gingerly guided her to a seat.

Brian and Elizabeth McClure

Brian and Elizabeth McClure. Photo by Chris Dorantes.

Professor Terry Borst of the Film School was the first to speak, his usual mirthful tone replaced by a solemn voice barely above a whisper; Borst’s head hung low as he thanked everyone for showing up to remember Harrison and support his loved ones. Harrison’s parents shared cute and quirky anecdotes of his childhood— including his love of Buzz Lightyear and cinematography. The first time he exemplified promise behind a camera was when he was young. His mother quoted his aunt as saying, “he’s gonna do something with this someday.”

Brian McClure said that Harrison was so jazzed to be apart of SFUAD, that he had been accepted into other schools but through research and visiting, knew SFUAD was the school for him. “He absolutely, unequivocally loved Santa Fe,” he said with an assured smile, his eyes flooding with tears. After Harrison’s parents spoke, they played a slideshow of his childhood photos accompanied by songs presumably from his music library (Shinedown and Nirvana). There were three slideshows, each one longer than the last, each made meticulously to encapsulate Harrison’s growth from a smiling, bright eyed baby to a proud Eagle Scout, the photos just skimming the surface of who he was and his impact.

Still from Harrison's cinematography reel.

Still from Harrison’s cinematography reel.

Then one after another, Harrison’s films from his website were played, his first film “Release Me” (2013), his first film at SFUAD “First Memory” (2014) and “Wasted Day” (2014) a short film which, as Harrison said, “tells the story of a beautiful day wasted by being spent indoors.” The last film played was Harrison’s cinematography reel, comprised of striking images and beautifully constructed shots that strictly followed the strategic guidelines of his cinematic style. Each shot rang like a loud whisper, they were defined without being contained; telling without giving away. Each set of eyes found themselves irrevocably glued to the screen, experiencing film the way it was intended to be. When Harrison’s last shot from his cinematography reel faded to black, the room remained silent for a few moments, in the wake of his work and evident progression from his oldest to his newest film. 

Loved ones were encouraged to be storytellers like Harrison, sharing funny and meaningful memories through Harrison’s years at SFUAD. The testimonies spoke mountains of Harrison’s character, friends took turns standing before the audience to share their experiences with Harrison. He was the fastest in dodge ball, the most caring, he was fascinated with ropes and tying knots due to his Boy Scout background. Through laughter and tears, each student plucked a unique moment from their memory. A moment that defined their relationship with Harrison, whether they were best friends, fellow filmmakers or borderline acquaintances, they all spoke with such fervor and admiration of his qualities and talents. Alex Addison took the microphone and liberty to comment on the photos included in the slideshows, “I didn’t have that many pictures of Harrison in it, because, to be honest, I was surprised that y’all had all these pictures up here cause he never wanted to be in front of the camera!” Addison jovially laughed and gestured to his friends in the audience, both of them agreeing with shaking shoulders of the fond memories. “Even though he wasn’t in the picture, he was still there. And I think that’s what we all need to remember, even if he’s not in the picture, he’s always there.”

A poem read by Omar Hilario, written by Marjorie Hodge a close friend of Harrison’s who graduated last spring and could not attend the memorial, closed out the service. The poem titled “Harrison, You Were Beautiful” left attendees in silent tears as Hilario looked away from his phone and hung his head low. Hodge composed a piece that was intelligent, quirky, full of passion and radiating love, a few of the many tangible qualities that are indisputably Harrison Shields McClure.

“The day that I met you, I was lost and alone.

Had no one to go to. No way to go home.

Then when I saw you, you joked and you laughed

We spent there for hours. Time flies so fast.

Your humor was subtle and kindness was sweet

You looked to my eyes and was glad you met me.

I’d only wish I smiled more, been light on my feet.

One look to know that here is where I should be.

The night was turning and stars were all to see,

But I couldn’t help but keep joking and smile with you.

I knew it wouldn’t end there so I said “see you soon.”

Then I walked to my dorm and thought to myself…..

This is beautiful

and you were beautiful.


Year three was crowded with midterms and finals

That annoyed you while you practiced your cocktails for hours.

But you loved the connections and working with friends

To make art something wonderfully thoughtful in the end.

Hanged around with me, Cailin, Steph, Vic and Crowder.

And many more people who admired your kind flower.

We dated for a week and even that flew by fast.

Making cakes for some birthdays, and dodgeball…..

You were badass!

You loved being a minion to Kim, the all time queen.

And didn’t think twice to hug those in need.

Then, I was in my dorm, and I wrote to myself…..

This was beautiful

and my friend, you were beautiful.


The smile that you left

On my sad little face.

The strength that you gave

Me to finish the race.

The struggles you saved

To help others in need.

The times well spent

And your love well received.

You were careless and outgoing

In the most fabulous of ways.

You were funny and dashing

On the Rocky Horror stage.

Your camera were your eyes, your heart and your soul.

Your dream was to be a cameraman or a teacher….. Or both!

Memories of you scream out and say…..

You were beautiful!

My friend, you were so beautiful.


Now that your memories remain.

We’ll live by the lessons you gave.

Moments and stories of you will be saved

And mentioned every time we think of your name.

Harry, you were more than just a wizard.

You captivated many and loved in the coldest of blizzards.

And you are not just a story… no no Honey, you are a legend.

You are undeniably, unforgettably, and without a doubt…..


And you told everyone of us within every single day you lived….


You are beautiful.”