I'm a perfectionist, to a point. I think it comes from being a craftsman, an artisan. When I do something, I want it to be perfect, or as perfect as I can make it. Of course, the problem comes in when the practical side takes over.
For example: the software that I've been working on works now. It is not the best it could be-- there are places it could be optimized, and I'd really love to go to a completely interrupt-driven communication architecture. But it works, it functions within the parameters that it needs to. It's not elegant, but it doesn't break when tested.
So I hand it off, and it ships out the door, and I move on to the next thing.
Does that horrify you? Does it seem like I've compromised my principles? It hits me like that, just a little bit. I understand the practical need to ship the product, to get moving on the next phase of the program, to put this one to bed.
The front porch of the Big Broken Box™ is another example. There are some problems with what I've done-- aesthetic issues, not structural-- and the perfectionist part of me wants to tear it down and re-do it. The practical part says "it's going to be buried under a bunch of wood and stone, leave it alone and finish the damn thing". That is of course expedited by having a deadline that the work has to be done, so it's not really a big decision.
It gets a little harder though when you're talking about something like making a movie with zero budget. The craft part of making the movie is pretty solid, and there are a lot of workarounds, but sometimes you just don't have a choice.
I built a camera dolly. It cost me somewhere in the $300 neighborhood in parts, and a few days of labor. It doesn't outperform a $15,000 dolly, but it lets the camera move. Before that, there was a lot of locked-down shooting on a tripod, some handheld stuff, and some aptly-named shaky-cam shots. Now I need to add a crane or a jib arm to add another couple of degrees of freedom to the motion that is possible. It will add a lot of complexity to the shots, but I think it's worth it.
I have a bunch of lights. I've run out while shooting, and had situations where I just didn't have enough lights. I could fix that by getting more lights, but until then, it's a limitation that I have to live with. I might have been able to work around it if I had more time: I could have moved a couple of other lights from a different area. But I didn't have more time. And I will notice it forever whenever I see that scene.
Thing is, I can always use more lights, or some flags, or more stands, or more grip arms, or a new camera, or a second microphone, or something that would make my job easier, and allow me to do more without compromising my perfectionist tendencies. Or I could use more time to find solutions to the problems that come up.
But sometimes I just don't have the luxury of either one, and I have to make do with what I have, even if I'm not happy with the results.
Is it compromising my artistic principles?
Pretty much, yeah. But sometimes it's what you have to do. And it took me a long time and no small amount of pain to learn that.
The bigger question comes to mind as to whether my willingness to compromise my integrity means that I will never be successful in my endeavors. That's the lesson that we hear over and over, I think I can I think I can, persevere, never give up, never surrender, and eventually you will be borne out to be right and the world will adore you in the end.
But for every person that makes it to the top like that, there are thousands of those who didn't. Maybe millions.
Are you living the life that you thought you would be living ten years ago? Twenty?
Hell, when I was 20, I thought I was gonna change the world. I had talent, and drive, and ambition.
It didn't happen. The world had other ideas, and it turned out to be a whole lot bigger than I had ever imagined.