the price of integrity

Recently I came across an article on the filmmaker Jerome Hiller. This is a man who has been making movies since 1964, and finally received national recognition after being featured at the Whiney Museum in 2012. In an interview Hiller acknowledged that he was never going to be rich, and that "you get nothing when you talk about the prestige, this, that and the other thing - nothing comes with that. Maybe $100. It means nothing to me."

In today's competitive, hamster wheel world, where people never slow down to just breathe, I find Hiller's attitude refreshing and respectable. There is such integrity in following your passion and accepting the balance of living conservatively in order to create. These imaginative souls surround us everywhere, falling like fairy dust. We are unaware of the magic as it descends yet there is something different, better, in our world as a result. 

I see this sacrifice day to day in my involvement with The Shotgun Players, a local community theater that was created in 1992 by Artistic Director Patrick Dooley.  With "ten eager actors and a bucket of black paint" Dooley set out to always strive "for the same core values we believe in today; artistic excellence, social relevance, and community engagement." Yet that ambition came with the reality of two jobs and endless of hours of multi-tasking detail. Now, twenty one years later, Shotgun continues to thrive as the actors who fill their stage balance day jobs that allow them to do what they love and we enjoy. The experience often being taken for granted.  

Without art, film, theater, visionary masterpieces, our world would be a bland, beige environment. Yet there is little awareness of the sacrifices that are made to provide the color and texture that make our days so intriguing. Tom Judson, actor, musician and author, recently described his plight of "being broke" as he detailed the day to day sacrifices he makes, waiting tables, choosing a .99 cent song on itunes over an ice tea with his lunch, and foregoing romance for monthly visits to a Coinstar machine. Yet, Mr. Judson says his "life has been a success, and there's no one with whom I'd trade places." For no one he can think of has had a more interesting and diverse life than he. 

"If an artist is to maintain his integrity, he must be responsible to himself; he must seek a public which will accept his vision, rather than pervert his vision to fit that public." -Alexey Brodovitch