Djuna Wahlrab grew up in Dayton, Ohio, nurtured by artists throughout her life. At four she began formal instruction at the Dayton Art Institute, where she first got the inkling that creative work could be a life path. She attended Stivers School for the Arts, winning numerous local, statewide and national awards in visual arts, and several of her shorts were screened at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus). While Stivers did not yet have a film program, her teachers supported her passion for film through independent studies where she self-directed her learning, drawing on the mentoring of others in the wider community. She cut her teeth on the local film scene, helping Steve Bognar edit his short Gravel, which went on to premiere at Sundance.
Djuna studied at NYU and returned to Dayton to start the video program at Stivers, where her students taught her to animate. Eventually finding her way back to NYC, Djuna began freelancing as a visual effects artist for film and TV, and has worked on such HBO series as Treme and Mildred Pierce.
In 2006, she produced her first professional short, the stop-motion film Falling Up, at an award-winning animation studio in Brooklyn, Charged Studios. This film was selected and awarded at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Brooklyn Film Festival, where she received the Audience Award for Best Short Film. The film went on to play at her favorite art house, The Neon, in Dayton. Most recently she directed Phosphorescent’s music video Song For Zula, which premiered on NPR’s First Watch and was featured on Pitchfork, Spin, Stereogum, Paste, Filter and many other music publications, garnering over 300k hits on YouTube.
While based in Brooklyn, Dayton has never been far from her. She shot the only live action segment of Falling Up in downtown Dayton and felt the love. She hopes to return the love with We’re Doing Fine, a film inspired by her own formative years in Dayton and the community that has supported her.