Seneca Falls Native and Former Child Actress Working on 10th Film
SENECA FALLS — In 1979, the late Michael Jackson, who hadn’t yet turned 21, released his wildly popular “Off the Wall” album.
ESPN launched what would turn out to be the most successful cable television network devoted to sports.
Not quite as prominent: Seventh-grader Deanna Shapiro and her family moved from the small town where she was born, Seneca Falls, to California.
Shapiro may not have the name appeal of Jackson or ESPN, but she is making her mark in Hollywood.
Now a producer, she has just entered post-production work on her 10th film, “Day of Days,” a Bass Entertainment Pictures movie featuring veteran actor Tom Skerritt. In addition, she has created her own production company, Beautiful Lie Pictures.
Shapiro estimated that “Day of Days” will take two to three months to finish. The film, based on a true story, follows a day in the life of 91-year-old man shut out from the world and a young Cuban refugee who is working as a home health aide. The film focuses on themes of regret, loss and love that occur during each of their lives.
“Tom was a pleasure to work with and so kind,” Shapiro said during a recent phone interview.
Shapiro said she is shooting for a spot at the Sundance Film Festival and vows not to attend until one of her films is up for an award.
She did receive the Best Independent Film Award at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival 2015 for the drama “A Better Place.”
Shapiro got her movie start as a child actress. She played Tiffany in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” a movie that featured Sarah Jessica Parker.
Her first film, “The Legend of Cryin’ Ryan,” was based on Seneca Falls. It was filmed there in 1997, the last time Shapiro visited the area. Shapiro shot footage and scenes in her great-grandmother’s house and the cemetery across the street. She also filmed in Fairport, using many local people in the film. She relayed the memory of getting a black eye from playing baseball, a common theme in the movie.
Shapiro’s next project, a western titled “Unbroken,” is still in the casting stage but will be entering production soon.
She said she still has “tons” of family in the Seneca Falls area and hopes to return for a visit sometime in the near future.
The advent of Facebook and social media has allowed Shapiro to reconnect with her former grade-school friends, including former classmate Allison Chiodo. Chiodo, who lives in Waterloo, joined Shapiro on a trip to New York City and recalls what a great time it was reminiscing about the old days.
“It was the first time I’d seen her in years,” Chiodo said. “I’m so proud to know how far she has come and her success as a producer.”
“She’s a beautiful woman with a beautiful heart,” Shapiro said of Chiodo.
Shapiro, who became a grandmother earlier this year, has a son and daughter. When her daughter was in high school she would drop her off at the animal shelter to volunteer. As the weeks progressed, Shapiro said she would go in and stay for hours taking care of the cats.
These days, however, her focus is on finishing her latest film.
Posted: Monday, June 29, 2015 5:00 pm