Member Directory

Light House Studio

Address 220 W Market Street
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Phone (434) 293-6992
Website http://www.lighthousestudio.org
Primary Contact Deanna Gould
Primary Email operations@lighthousestudio.org
Executive Director Deanna Gould
Primary Focus Area Children/Youth (non-education)
Service Areas
  • Augusta
  • Albemarle
  • Buckingham
  • Charlottesville
  • Fluvanna
  • Greene
  • Louisa
  • Madison
  • Nelson
  • Orange
  • Statewide
  • National
  • Central Virginia

Mission Statement

Light House brings young people together to make movies. We are a nonprofit filmmaking center dedicated to helping students develop their vision and show their work. We believe in the importance of collaboration and community, the creativity of young minds, and the lasting benefits of our hands-on, mentor-based approach to teaching the art of filmmaking.


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 (Independent Film Channel), and Public Access Television. Several of our students have received national awards for their films, including a Peabody Award, a Gold World Medal at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards and a CINE Golden Eagle Award.

"Light House Studio is exceptional because it engages a diverse group of kids without patronizing them. It fosters artistic creativity and innovation within the discipline of filmmaking and challenges each child appropriately according to their skill and interest level." –Mary, Light House parent

Light House Studio is the 2015 Winner of the Dominion ArtStars Award, which "recognize(s) arts organizations that best demonstrate and advance the synergy of arts and education."

Key Programs

Program 1
Title:Keep it REEL
Description:Since 2003 Light House has conducted this on-site, after-school film program in multiple low-income and public housing neighborhoods in Charlottesville. We also partner with other nonprofits such as Boys and Girls Club, Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters to teach filmmaking to their youth. Objectives and aims of the KIR program include:
1. To encourage self-expression and give disadvantaged youth a format for voicing their opinions and using their diverse perspectives to impact our local community.
2. To facilitate collaboration with other local nonprofits and among youth from different areas of our community, building friendships and working towards the mutual goal of making a film.
3. To engage underserved youth and keep them off the streets. “If Keep it REEL and Light House were not involved at Westhaven, the children would not have a creative way of getting ideas out. The opportunity that Light House gives the kids gives them a constructive way to be productive and keeps them out of trouble." –Harold, Light House parent
4. To teach technical skills which translate into useful job skills.
Examples of Program Success:100% of KIR students say that they would take another KIR workshop and that they would recommend the class to other students. KIR student films have won multiple national awards including Best Documentary at the Virginia Student Film Festival, Honorable Mention at the Reel Change Film Festival, and Finalist at Truth Through the Lens Festival and Scribe Video Center.
Program 2
Title:Local Nonprofit Collaborations
Description:Experienced Light House teen filmmakers create short films or public service announcements for deserving area nonprofit organizations. Students are involved with selecting the nonprofit that they would like to support, and during the process learn about branding/marketing and commercial film production. Students create a storyboard, film, and edit the final short film, which is then shown at screenings after each workshop, online, and even on local television. Recent partner nonprofits include the SPCA, Camp Holiday Trails, the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Emily Couric Leadership Award, Shenandoah National Park Trust, Rivanna River Conservation, and PB &J, among others.
Examples of Program Success:Past PSAs include films for UNICEF's Tap Project (3 years), the SPCA, and Wintergreen Adaptive Sports. In addition to airing on television, films have received awards including an acceptance to the Chicago CineYouth Film Festival.
Program 3
Title:In-School Film Education
Description:In addition to our on-site, after-school workshops, Light House mentors go into area schools to teach students technical skills like cinematography, screenwriting, editing, and sound in addition to life skills like planning and organization, collaboration, self-expression, and problem solving. LH partners with many local schools and nonprofits to bring arts education into schools. A sample of our school partners include Mountaintop Montessori, Walker Upper Elementary School, Renaissance School, Albemarle High School ESOL, Ivy Creek School, Elk Hill, and more. Local and national nonprofits supporting our in-school film education include the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Film Festival, and The Prana Fund at CACF, among others.
Examples of Program Success:Light House gives professionally-developed surveys to students and parents at the conclusion of each workshop. In these surveys, students report an increased ability to turn their ideas into a finished product, to plan and organize, and to work collaboratively with peers. Parents report a noticeable improvement in their children’s willingness to collaborate with peers and ability to clearly communicate their ideas and opinions. More than 70% of post-workshop survey respondents reported that LH instruction “helped develop my artistic vision and creativity.” Walker 5th grader Izzy puts it this way, "I would definitely recommend the program to a friend. I learned different techniques when you film, what angles are better, and what questions to ask. I also got to learn to use cameras; I didn’t know how to before. Sometimes we had to work with people I didn’t really like, but in the end I really liked them."

Giving Opportunities

Opportunity 1
Title:Programmatic Support
Description:Light House Studio is the only film school of its kind in Virginia, and students from almost every middle and high school in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are represented in our student body. Light House arts instruction follows the tenants of arts education best practices established in the Harvard study "The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education.” These strategies include teaching artistic skills without making them primary, developing aesthetic awareness, providing ways for students to engage with community and civic issues, providing a venue for students to express themselves, and helping students develop as individuals. We ensure that our programming meets these standards through rigorous tracking including professionally-developed surveys distributed to students, parents, and mentors after each workshop. Respondents report on technical skills (camera, lighting, editing, sound) and soft skills (storytelling, self-expression, collaboration, and organization) acquired, as well as their level of interest in future workshops.

We also track programmatic success through the quality of student work. Last year our students' films were selected for 19 national and international film festivals and won significant prizes including the Future Filmmaker Grant for Best Documentary (LA Film Festival), 2nd Prize for Documentary Film (Adobe Youth Voices), and Best Editing (Women’s Independent Film Festival). Finally, we track live audience (13,500+ last year) and online views (approximately 74,000 total) of student work to gauge public interest.

Last year, with the support of our generous community, Light House:
• offered 72 workshops to 878 students;
• collaborated with 47 nonprofit organizations and schools;
• engaged 37 film professionals in 163 mentor slots, utilizing their skills to help us teach our students;
• produced more than 200 films and exposed 13,500 audience members to our films (with more than 70,000 social media views);
• celebrated when our student films were accepted into national festivals and won prestigious awards including a 2nd Prize for Documentary Film at Adobe Youth Voices, Ed Elias Future Filmmaker Grant for Best Documentary Film at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Best Editing at the Women’s Independent Film Festival.

Find out more at http://www.lighthousestudio.org/support-us
Project TimelineOngoing
Opportunity 2
Title:Vinegar Hill Theatre Campaign
Description:For 37 years Vinegar Hill Theatre served as a singular venue for screening independent and international films and a community gathering spot for art lovers. After a long battle with the big movie chains, Vinegar Hill closed its doors for good in 2013. In spring 2016 Light House will reopen Vinegar Hill as a film education center in this highly-visible and convenient location on the downtown mall, which serves as a movie lot for our young filmmakers. In addition to highlighting the work of our young filmmakers, the renovated theatre will also host public screenings of films created in collaboration with our 50+ local nonprofit partners, as well occasionally screening independent films by local artists and beyond.

We have currently raised 78% of the funds needed to renovate and transform the existing space into a community youth media center featuring two filming studios, editing stations, a roof terrace, and full-screen theatre. We are also raising funds for the preservation and maintenance of the building. Through the generosity of the the Perry Foundation, the Batten Family Fund, and the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, all gifts received before May 2016 will be doubled.

Find out more at http://lighthousestudio.org/support-vinegar-hill-campaign
Project TimelineRenovation and transformation of the theatre: May 2016. Phase II, addition of two teaching studios is ongoing. Cabell Foundation $150,000 matching gift is due June 15, 2018. Preservation Fund: ongoing.