Thursday, September 27, 2012



I know the first thing that usually comes to mind when you say compromise is politics, but the word itself also has a unique intellectual property attached. When you use the word it automatically puts the listener on the edge, anticipating an argument or God forbid an opinion.

I grew up in a house full of turmoil. Dad was a democrat, mom a republican and grandpa an independent with an open mind. That’s not to say he was not opinionated, but he always taught me to compromise. He said without compromise, there was no happiness, peace or resolve.

Dad and mom argued endlessly and mostly about nothing. Grandpa was a man of reason. He listened very carefully examined all the facts before he passed judgment. I found my grandpa’s attitude much more congenial to my personality, and so I found listening to him and others made more sense than to constantly be in turmoil.

In school, you learn all about compromise early on. It’s hard to get along with playmates and not be able to give a little and take some back.

As an actor there is constant compromise, or you look for another job. If you have an opinion on how a character should be played, and the director has a totally opposite concept, guess who wins? As much as I love to act, you still have to keep in mind that others hired you to fulfill their vision. Disagree or refuse to compromise and you find yourself looking for work more often then if you got along and went with the flow.

When I became a studio writer, the word compromise was printed in capital letters. You created a draft you love, and then the studio reads it, and they have that right because they hired you. Then they ask for re-writes and then more of the same. At times, you think you’ve ended up with an entirely new script. After they finished readjusting the story, a director is brought in, and he too wants his input, vision, and ideas and demands his changes be made. Your baby now takes on a whole new look with lots of compromises here and there to make everyone happy.

When producing a film, the compromise usually comes from others. You want things to go smoothly and yet keep the structure to the piece intact. Then you find the necessity to compromise because your vision won’t fit within the budget.

The same goes when I direct a film. You still compromise on just about all facets of the production. The wardrobe needs a change because your star doesn’t like what was chosen for him or her to wear, the shoes are wrong and his desk needs certain items not in the budget or on the product placement list. You’re forced to compromise.

As a full-blown filmmaker, you find producing, writing and directing the film will surely be easier and the need to compromise won’t come up as often but it doesn’t work that way. You actually discover very quickly the need to compromise when the budget you helped create is or might be soon exceeded from the original figure. That’s when you’re faced with both eyes to figure out a compromise and get back on schedule. There are times product placement won’t save you, or you can’t afford certain things such as cranes, lenses or camera use. What do you do? You compromise and find a substitute solution. In post-production, there are even more compromises with editing, cuts, music, effects, angles, cutting an actor out and more. It can be a nightmare if you haven’t learned the art of compromise. It’s amazing how many things must be changed from the first day of production to the last.

Writers have always been faced with compromise. If you have an editor, they see weaknesses in your story or the concept of the overall book, television or film script needs a polish or rewrite. In a novel, there are more changes, compromises and arguments than usually found in screenplays. Hearts can easily be broken; characters left in the dust and the storyline adjusted with so many changes it’s hard to recognize the original work. As a screenwriter, you write the script, make changes, polish it, perhaps have a re-write or two and then get a green light for production. In comes the actors and the director and guess what? They too have some ideas that a minor rewrite will solve. They say it’s only a few, just a tweak here and there, and it’s done. Then reality sets in, you cut some things that made the story work, the engine is gone and/or the character's dimension has been compromised. There’s that word again.

In a relationship, you can’t get through a week without compromise. The range is vast and covers just about everything you can think of from food to deserts, vacations, clothes, haircuts, makeup, vehicles, romance, what films or television shows you watch and what music you both can tolerate. There are other areas, but you get the idea. The main and most important subject usually settles on money and the household budget. Here you find restrictions that neither party may be happy with even when compromises are made. All parties know if the budget works, their lives will enjoy a total and completely happy environment. Romance will bloom; smiles prevail, and compatibility will live to see another day.

What it all comes down to is even in the work force, politics, and personal relationships; the need to compromise becomes paramount in all that we do. When we can no longer compromise to get along or work together, failure waits right around the corner. Let us not forget; everyone is replaceable, even though we hate to admit this, it’s true. There is no job, no one person from the top on down, that can’t be replaced.

The ultimate goal for all of us is to learn, listen, smile often and get along as best as can be tolerated. There are no doubts, we will never all get along smoothly nor will there be a lasting world peace that someone somewhere will refuse to act as expected and will impulsively spoil the wonderful for us all.
On the other hand, there is also no reason for us not to try to achieve a peaceful goal and enjoy life to the max. I like to remind everyone, a smile goes a long way.

Compromise is truly a grand word. As my grandpa once told me, be prepared during the whole of life to make concessions. The quality and elements in our lives may differ, but the ultimate goal for all of us is to accomplish and perhaps over-achieve what was first anticipated.

William Byron Hillman © 2012
Book Links:
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra’s Rock and Me

Rollie Kemp Books
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:

Coming soon:
Let’s Sue ‘Em (October 2012)
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure (November 2012)