I am haunted by incompletion. Projects left unfinished, half-finished or imperfectly finished surround me, and I cannot but suffer from their accumulated weight on my shoulders.

I don’t believe it’s arrogance to call myself creative. There is literally not a day that goes by without the seed for some new project popping into my head. Of these, a tiny percentage ever bridge the gap from idea to actual concept. Still fewer reach the stage of getting tucked into a subroutine in the back of my brain to be fleshed out and digested, and only the smallest fraction ever spark the desire to act on them.

These ideas, once confronted with the harsh realities of available time and resources, often settle back onto a dust-covered shelf in my brain. Maybe they were lucky enough to spawn a handful of notes that get tucked into a folder in a folder in a folder on my computer.

The very rarest become actual projects, and earn expended effort of varying degrees and complexities. As a result, my personal history is littered with artistic detritus; films, shorts, web series, animations, visual effects sequences, screenplays, plays, short stories, novels, histories, erotica, comic books, board games, RPGs, graphics, artwork, photography, and even an erstwhile autobiography.

A life’s work spreads out behind me, nearly all of it, for one reason or another, incomplete. Abandoned somewhere along the path between first spark and last polish.

Part of me wants to simply forget these fallen works and move on, but to paraphrase Ahab, they task me. I feel as if I’m building upon a weakened foundation by not knocking a few of these old relics off my to do list once and for all. And, yes, there’s an actual list. There’s always a list.

This blog is the first in a series discussing the Incomplete Works of Bryn Pryor. I’m making it a series rather than a single blog, partly to keep the length under control, but mostly so I can procrastinate and not finish this, either…

The Making of In Search of a Quest
1985-1986

This was the nominal sequel to Boston Clam Chowder: The Sequel, which was the first film I ever made, back in 1983. BCC is also one of the very few things I consider finished. In 2003, I had the original Super 8 scanned properly, re-did all the special effects, printed full-size one-sheet posters for the people involved and gave away Special, 19th-Anniversary Edition DVDs to the folks who’d worked on it.

Quest needs the same treatment, except moreso. I didn’t direct Quest, but I co-wrote and produced, and from day one, it was a troubled shoot. That first day, the entire problem was me, but as the shoot dragged on, it became apparent Ken Brodzinksi (the film’s director and co-writer) and I hadn’t really gotten what we wanted on the page. Nor, apparently, was it clear in our heads. Or anyone else’s…

Adding to the story problems were a collection of production disasters that were fairly epic for a tiny shoot. Equipment failures, talent failures, interpersonal failures. It was a nightmare in Super 8.

What we ended up with was a mediocre mess with minimal plot and no ending. Eventually, we decided we needed to do re-shoots, but Ken had blown a small fortune on Quest, and film — even Super 8 — costs money, so we carried on shooting… on VHS. The mockumentary format we were working in gave us a lot of latitude, but less than we imagined. We didn’t really finish the film so much as we simply got sick of shooting it. A couple of different cuts exist, none of them good.

I think this is what kept me from moving on to re-work Quest after I had finished Clam ChowderBCC was so much fun to do, and the end result was so awesome (terrible, but a wonderful kind of terrible), I came away from “restoring” it with a lot of momentum. And then I realized I just didn’t know what to do with Quest.

I could spend thousands on a great transfer, and months cutting and pruning, and still end up with a mediocre mess. It’s one thing to be George Lucas and destroy your own nearly-perfect creation. It’s another thing altogether to be Oliver Stone and just keep cutting Alexander because you know there’s a good MOVIE in there SOMEWHERE!!!

No.

And then a funny thing happened as I was considering this blog. Suddenly, I knew how to make it work. I felt like Fenchurch from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  when she’s about to figure out the Answer to the Question.

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

I got it. It clicked. I now know how to make The Making of In Search of a Quest not just a well-polished relic, but something truly unique and brilliant and relevant. But there’s the rub. It’s now gone full-circle and become a new project. Which means it has to wait, and possibly never make it off the shelf.

Then I will have left it unfinished twice.

Whatcha think?

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