About Light House


Light House Studio equips young people with the skills and confidence to tell their stories and build community through collaborative filmmaking. We seek to foster a community where Charlottesville’s young people flourish as students, storytellers, and citizens.


Light House Studio was founded in 1999 by a group of local filmmakers, artists, and educators who began with a small pilot workshop, “Video Diary.” Since then we have helped youth create thousands of documentaries, dramas, and animated films. Our student work has been broadcast on PBS, CNN, IFC, and TNT. Work has been exhibited at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Second Street Gallery, and Live Arts, among others. Light House films have been shown in festivals all over the United States. Many of our students have received national awards for their films, including a Peabody Award, a Gold World Medal at the New York Festivals World’s Best TV & Films, and a CINE Golden Eagle Award.

We have collaborated with many local nonprofits, including The International Rescue Committee; Children Youth and Family Services; Boys and Girls Club; The Music Resource Center; Live Arts; Second Street Gallery; The Virginia Film Festival; Public Housing Association of Residents; UNICEF’s Tap Project; Central Virginia Burn Camp; Big Brothers Big Sisters; the Shenandoah National Park Trust; as well as Ivy Creek School, Tandem Friends School, the Community Homeschool Enrichment Center, St. Anne’s-Belfield, and Walker Scholars. Light House is a member of Virginians for the Arts, the Virginia Production Alliance, The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, and The Alliance.

We provide uncensored, mentored workshops in digital filmmaking and exhibition opportunities to young people, enabling them to learn, by hand, the pervasive language of motion pictures and sound. We challenge our students to be active participants in the media, and not simply passive consumers of the millions of images they see everyday.

Our Staff

Deanna Gould

Executive Director

Deanna has worked extensively in film. As head of production for Cinesite Europe she successfully completed special effects work for films including Harry Potter I and II, Bond XX Die Another Day and Tomb Raider. Early in her career, Deanna produced numerous television commercials for major US clients. Her awards include Addys, a Clio and numerous medals from the International Film and TV Festival of New York. Before becoming Light House’s staff Executive Director in September 2009, she was a board member and mentor for three years.

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Rachel Abrams

Assistant Director of Light House Development

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Rachel graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 with a degree in Poetry Writing and American Studies. She has always been passionate about mentorship and making spaces for creative self-expression, so Light House was a perfect fit. She was introduced to filmmaking in her 9th grade TV Productions class and has been hooked ever since, later going on to make films for UVA and herself. Rachel teaches workshops during the summer and helps with development and donor relations year-round.

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Alazar Aklilu

Program Coordinator

Alazar Aklilu, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, is a Writer-Director-Producer passionate about storytelling in conjunction with social responsibility. With literary interests ranging from Greek Classics to contemporary African novels, he is determined to create feature length projects which uplift, inspire, and entertain moviegoers around the world. As Program Coordinator for Light House Studio, he strives to be a positive and resourceful collaborator in service of the emerging filmmakers within the region. 

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Cecilia Glenn

Production Manager

Cecilia graduated from Furman University with a BM in vocal performance. She toured extensively with the Furman Singers and Chamber Choir, performed in fully-staged and orchestrated productions, and studied music abroad in Arezzo, Italy at the Accademia dell’Arte. Her summers have been spent as a counselor and head staff member at Camp Greystone, where she developed a passion for mentoring middle and high school–aged students. With a keen interest in songwriting, Cecilia enjoys writing and performing around town at open mics.

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Sam Gorman

Lead teaching Artist

Sam started as a student at Light House at the age of 13. From there they earned a BFA from the Film Conservatory at SUNY Purchase, a four year program focused on film production and theory, returning to Light House in the summers as a mentor. After college Sam performed various roles as a freelancer, from helping manage a professional camera rental house to working as the editor at a commercial production company. Sam has since returned to Light House full-time, bringing everything they’ve learned back to where they started. Sam continues to write and direct their own films.

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Will Goss

Education Director

Will Goss is from a very small town called Clarksdale, Mississippi – also known as “Home of the Blues.” Will studied English literature at the University of Georgia, but it wasn’t all Dickens and Shakespeare…he was also in a lot of bands. His favorite one was called Plume, and it’s still alive today. After graduating from Georgia, Will moved to Chicago to study filmmaking at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What a city! The school took his love for the cinema to the next level, and his interest in filmmaking and film history has only grown since then. After 3 years of teaching film in Jackson, Mississippi, and 2 years of teaching English in Russia, Will is now in Charlottesville, VA!

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Anna Wang

Vinegar Hill Theatre Programmer & Teaching Artist

Anna Wang is a film/video artist from upstate NY, with experience in non-traditional documentary, 16 mm, and event videography. At Vinegar Hill Theatre, she is excited to program events that celebrate modern independent filmmakers and bring community together around cult/arthouse favorites. As a teaching artist, she hopes to encourage youth to have creative confidence and ease of expression through sound and moving image. She holds a BS from Cornell University.

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Board of Directors

  • Stuart Greer Ellis, Board Chair
  • Rachel Bronzenske, Treasurer
  • Eugenie Atherton
  • Bob Beard
  • Larry Becker
  • Katharine Birdsall
  • Olivia Branch
  • Catherine Brown
  • Jocelyn Diaz
  • Deanna Gould
  • Elvira Hoskins
  • Sarah Gray Parrish
  • Andrea Stiernstrand
  • Kwamina Williford

Advisory Board

  • Shannon Worrell, Founding Director
  • Josiah Black
  • Larry Blanford, Director of Photography
  • Pati Cunningham, National Education Consultant
  • Temple Fennell, Co-Founder of ATO Pictures
  • Jack Fisk, Oscar-Nominated Production Designer
  • Nicole Kassell, Film & Television Director
  • Will Kerner, Photojournalist
  • Paul Wagner, Oscar-Winning Director
  • Fenton Williams, Lighting Designer & Founder of Filament Productions

Teaching Artists, Past & Present

  • Paul Wagner
  • Richard Herskowitz
  • Shannon Worrell
  • Thadd McQuade
  • Laura Parsons
  • Nicole Kassell
  • Will May
  • Catherine Dee
  • Tom DeCuir
  • Temple Fennell
  • Jen Fariello
  • Erik Adolphson
  • Grier Dill
  • Cassandra Barnett
  • Daniel Bloomberg
  • Alexandria Searls
  • Nora Brookfield
  • Will Kerner
  • Richard Needham
  • Dave Ackerman
  • Sidney Griffin
  • Geoff Luck
  • Johnny St. Ours
  • Eric Hurt
  • Sasha Solodukhina
  • Luke Tilghman
  • Dave Brown
  • Meredith Curtin
  • Ross Bollinger
  • Bernard Hankins
  • Rom Alejandro
  • MA Sullivan
  • Harold Folley
  • Gretel Truong
  • Mara Cox
  • Dan Hennicke
  • Jordan Taylor
  • Greg Kelly
  • Bremen Donovan
  • Joe Babarksy
  • William Cassell
  • Keira Hart
  • Mary Pumphrey
  • Evan Parter
  • Nathaniel Turner
  • Giles Sherwood
  • Goran Kajan
  • Deanna Gould
  • Sam Baker
  • Mac Marshall
  • Adam Brock
  • Billy Hunt
  • Mark Farmwald
  • Marcello Rollando
  • Maya Drake
  • Rebekah Brooks
  • Vashti Harrison
  • Keaton Monger
  • Clarence Green
  • Joe Ruckert
  • Aidan Keith-Hynes
  • Reid Hildebrand
  • Charlotte Cherry
  • Zach Keifer
  • Taylor Gist
  • Wendy Brown
  • Taka Suzuki
  • Anna Hogg
  • Jonah Tobias
  • Greg Brozenske
  • Elizabeth Culbertson
  • Catherine Cura
  • Caroline Cox
  • Ryan Beard
  • Karson Monger
  • Joe Vena
  • Jason Stefaniak
  • Aaron McGinnis
  • Rebecca Malaret
  • Meredith Cole
  • Larry Blanford
  • Becca Meaney
  • Will Mullany
  • Sandy Williams
  • Will Jones
  • Joel Ruby
  • Michelle Kislykov
  • Corinne James
  • Elizabeth Cassell
  • Noah Bowden
  • Ashley Yalaju
  • Anne Schermerhorn
  • David Ariew
  • Kate Wagner
  • Sam Gorman
  • Jason Robinson
  • Anna Wang
  • Chelsea Woodfolk
  • Rachel Abrams
  • Will Goss
  • Alexi Scheiber
  • Ian Levesque
  • Denise Stewart