Why did you make Jung & Restless?

My goal was to make a film that generates a feeling of mystery and wonder using symbols and images from my dreams. When I was working with a senior Jungian analyst, I stopped dreaming and the analyst called this “deus absconditus”, Latin for ‘hidden god’. I began doing “subconscious” animation experiments, working straight ahead without planning, creating storyboards or even thinking about the imagery. I completely ignored internal dialog like “What is this about?”, “Where is this going?” and “What should I do next?” In place of the missing dreams, I shared these experiments with the analyst. I was gobsmacked by her interpretations. Inspired by what I learned, I turned the experiments into a film, adding compositions inspired by my my dream notes and the art of Carl Jung.

Frame from Jung & Restless (2021)
Frame from Jung & Restless.
What does the title mean?

The title refers to the restless state of dreaming and it is  a pun on a popular soap opera, The Young and the Restless. In English, “Jung” sounds very similar to “young”. This television show premiered in 1973 and was the number one daytime drama in the US for 32 years. The title sequence for the film was animated by Brian Kinkley, a brilliant effects designer and compositor that I have collaborated with since 2009.

Jung & Restless composer Seth Norman.
Jung & Restless composer Seth Norman.

How did you work with the composer and sound designer?

Composer Seth Norman and I have worked on seven films together. I absolutely love his work. He does the score after the animation is complete. We had only one phone call and an email exchange where we discussed Jung & Restless. Two months later I received the first (and final) music from Seth.  At first I was shocked that it was an orchestral score. As I continued to listen, I came to the amazing transition in the middle of the film, where the music goes in a completely different direction. A lightbulb went off and I thought: “This is genius!” I love how it relates to Jung’s duality principle. Seth said he had always wanted to compose an orchestral score. His first one is amazing.

Chris Barber working on Jung & RestlessSound designer Chris Barber doing frequency carving on Jung & Restless in 2019.

Working with Chris Barber on the sound effects and mix was my favorite part of making Jung & Restless. Chris does not use a commercial sound library and makes nearly all of the sound effects himself. He is extraordinarily inventive and playful. About one effect, Chris says: “first I recorded rush-hour traffic with a heavy truck driving by. Then I picked out the descending frequencies from the clip. I love messing around with frequency carving and like to set patterns across the clips to create weird and strange sounds.”

Why should I watch Jung & Restless?  

Bring a little mystery and beauty into your life! Jung & Restless is a relaxing, immersive film that may inspire you to explore your own dreams and personal symbols. 

Was it made for a specific age group?  

Jung & Restless has no dialog or text and is colorful and engaging so people of all ages like it. The film is about symbols so each viewer has a personal interpretation of what it means.

What feedback have you received?

Marcel Jean, the Artistic Director of the Annecy International Animation Festival said that “Jung & Restless is beautiful and spectacular. The synchrony between the animation and the music and soundtrack is fabulous. It was a Short of the Year Finalist at Click for Festivals in Madrid, Spain, a finalist at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, Texas and the Maracay International Film and Video Festival in Venezuela and has shown at 21 other international film festivals.

What are you working on now? 

I just finished making Fleeting Marvels, my first live action short film. It is about Burning Man 2019 and it was edited by Zak Margolis with music composed by Seth Norman. I hike in the forest as much as possible. I love to make botanical medicine and I maintain a large herbal pharmacy. 

Fleeting Marvels


Frame from Fleeting Marvels by Joanna Priestley. Edited by Zak Margolis. Music by Seth Norman.

“Imaginative, playful and whimsical, Priestley’s work radiates a sense of wonder and delight about the art of animation. -Maral Mohammadian, Cartoons: the International  Journal of Animation

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