Meet Our Team

Taylor McNelis

Writer, Director

Taylor McNelis is a graduate of James Madison University and currently lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Taylor began as 1st Assistant Camera on the Mount Skylight short film. His talent and dedication to the craft of filmmaking was quickly recognized, and we are thrilled to have him as our director. He is the owner of Wild Lion Productions, and his past films include Lunch Break and 10-59. 

Ryan Cudahy


Ryan Cudahy co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the Mount Skylight short film. As Producer, he will be developing and marketing Mount Skylight for the people of Virginia and beyond. Ryan is an award-winning producer whose films have been selected for multiple festivals nationwide. His past films include Swipe, The Meantime, Sharp Dressed Men, Blackbird, Lunch Break, and 10-59.

Tristan Schuler

Writer, Producer

The original concept for Mount Skylight came from a note on Tristan Schuler’s iPhone. Tristan and Ryan developed Mount Skylight into a short film, and he and Taylor have written the feature script. Tristan is also an accomplished film composer, whose soundtrack for Swipe has over 3,500 listeners on Spotify. Tristan is a graduate student at the University of Arizona. 

Kestrel Aceto


Kestrel Aceto was born and raised in Warrenton, VA. Kestrel began her role as Producer by launching our social media strategy. We were devastated to hear of her passing in late September. No one was more passionate about Mount Skylight than Kestrel. She brought an energy and spirit to the film that will never leave us. Mount Skylight will be dedicated to her memory. 

Ian Herbst

Director of Photography

Ian Herbst is an accomplished cinematographer, and was born and raised in Jeffersonton, VA. He is the co-owner of Aisling and Company, a video production company. He is a graduate of James Madison University, having studied Digital Video and Cinema.  He has worked as Director of Photography for the festival-qualified short films Swipe, Sharp Dressed Men, and 10-59. 

Jake Vanaman

Associate Producer

Jake Vanaman is a Music and Media Studies major at the University of Virginia, and helms our social media management. In addition to working as Associate Producer for Mount Skylight, Jake is a saxophonist and recording engineer in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, spending much of his time touring with Kendall Street Company, a jam rock band based in Charlottesville.

David Kristiansen


David Kristiansen is a graduate of Full Sail University and lives in Leesburg, VA with his family. David has 15 + years of experience as a video editor working at EFX Media based out of Arlington, VA. In addition to editing the Mount Skylight short film, he was one of the primary contributors to our thematic approach.

Hannah Bradford

Associate Producer

Hannah Bradford is a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She joined the Mount Skylight team as 2nd Assistant Camera, and quickly moved her way up to Associate Producer. Hannah’s producing credits include short films such as Bottle Service, Blackbird, and Lunch Break. 

Nathan Scholz

Audio Mixer

Nathan Scholz earned his Master’s in Audio Technology from American University and lives in Charlottesville, VA. He has a wide breadth of experience in audio production including live sound, location recording, and post-production audio for film. His filmography includes All for a Reason and Lunch Break.

Morgan Flanagan

Cast – Maggie

Morgan is an actress & model based out of Ashburn, VA. Morgan earned her Theatre degree from JMU & is currently attending GWU’s School of Nursing. Her performance as Maggie in Mount Skylight solidified her lead role in our feature. Her recent credits include Wonder Woman 1984, The Other Side, & Pungo.

Brendan Gaffey

Cast – Ross

Brendan Gaffey is a model, actor, and graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. His vast range of performances earned him the role of Ross in the Mount Skylight short film, and we are thrilled to have him back for the feature. His filmography includes Patton Blau, All For a Reason, and Six Pack. 

Matthew Sharpe

Cast – JD, Associate Producer

Matthew Sharpe is an accomplished actor from Arlington, VA. Having earned his Master’s in Film Production from American University, Matthew has earned his role as a prominant figure of the DC film community. His previous films include Malice, Blackbird, Lunch Break, Pungo, and 10-59. 

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