NEWPORT — Danielle Cherry, a sophomore at DePaul University in Chicago, admitted she is learning about film directing from the bottom up.

“I’m doing much more than I thought I would during my first year,” she related.

“I was getting coffee for other directors and during my first year making other contacts. You don’t ever say no but ask,” she discovered.

The daughter of Daniel and Sandra Cherry of Newport, Danielle knew before her high school graduation in 2018 from Bishop Brady High School in Concord the direction she wanted to take with her life.

Her goal is to become a movie director and that is what led her to select DePaul University where there are plenty of opportunities in Chicago just minutes from the DePaul campus to learn the ropes.

She got a head start with her goal of becoming a director at the Newport Opera House where she had the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience.

She added to her resume this summer by directing two short films that can be used as calling cards as she moves up the ladder in her field after graduation from DePaul.

And she still is active at another of her favorite activities with the baton. One of the top twirlers in New Hampshire as a member of the Red Star Twirlers based in Derry, N.H., Danielle remains active in the twirling arena. During the basketball season this winter at DePaul there will be plenty of opportunities to perform at home games during halftime.

In her freshman year at DePaul, with an undergraduate enrollment of 14,507, Danielle worked with five other graduate students on four films. “I learned a lot by just watching them. I sat behind a director and learned what’s really good and what I would want to do.” she said

The 19-year-old sophomore is in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in film directing at DePaul with a minor in screen writing,” she revealed.

The last week of school in the spring, Danielle teamed up with Alec Barlow of Bartlett, Ill., also a sophomore, majoring in creative producing with a minor in screenwriting. The two led a cast in the production of “Dear Virginia.” The film is in two parts during World War II in the 1940’s in one of Al Capone’s original speakeasy-hangout bars in the 30’s.

A portion of that film was produced on a farm in Newport in July and at the Newport Opera House. “Ghost Light,” the second film eight-minute film was all produced in Newport.

She hopes to enter “Ghost Light” in some festival to get back some money,” Danielle said referring to the cost involved with the production of the two films.

Everyone working on “Dear Virginia” was under 20. Paul Danowski, Sgt. Henry in “Dear Virginia” is a great actor,” Danielle noted.

After discovering a helmet from the Second World War containing photographs and a letter on the inside, three young boys indulge in imagination of what took place around the time that the documents were created, telling the story of the doomed great-grandfather of one of the boys, Danielle said of “Dear Virginia.”

Producer Barlow had many positive comments about Newport. “The Town of Newport proved to be a worthy and beautiful backdrop for both short films. Being based out of Chicago, we essentially had fee-reign of shooing the principal photography anywhere in the U.S., due to the centralized location of the city. However, very few places could beat the landscape and aesthetics that the director’s hometown of Newport encompasses,” Badwin said.

“The character of the town contributed greatly to both of the short films, from the gentle, antique beauty of the Newport Opera House to the pleasant rolling fields on the outskirts of Downtown, all with a soft mountainous backdrop, ultimately setting a benign tone for “Dear Virginia” and capturing the peculiar environment required for “Ghost Light” he continued.

“The decision to shoot the second unit of Dear Virginia in Newport proved itself to be worthwhile, and shooting the entirety of Ghost Light in the town added to my satisfaction of utilizing this destination for filming,” Barlow concluded.

Cast members of “Dear Virginia” also commented on the production.

Paul Danowski as Sgt. Henry, DePaul University, sophomore, acting major from Portland, Ore.: “Working on Dear Virginia was truly a pleasure. The case was energetic, enthusiastic, and more importantly, constantly having fun. I had a great experience working with everyone on set and look forward to seeing the final product

Skyler Luby as Virginia, North Central College, sophomore, musician theatre and entrepreneurship, Bartlett, Ill.: Dear Virginia was my finest experience with film, and everything about it was wonderful. My gratitude to the cast and crew is endless, and I am incredibly excited to see the final product.”

Olemich Tugas as Joe, DePaul University, sophomore, acting major from Huntley, Ill.: “It was super fun, exciting, and low pressure environment on set that encouraged a productive, yet enjoyable work ethic.

John Sheehan as Ed, Elgin Community College, sophomore, music production, Carol Stream, Ill.: “I had a very fun and fluid experience with the incredibly talented and funny cast, crew and production team.”

Evan Nelson as David, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sophomore, history major.

“Ghost Light” summary: A 10-year old curious boy (Mason) convinced his friends (Denny and Brenna) to go ghost hunting in the basement of the old historical building, but what scares them more, the ghost or his jerk big brother Butch? While the scared children wandering in the darkness of the basement, Denny finds and light pull string. Denny pulls the light string and is face to face with the thing that scares him most. Who is it? DUN, DUN, DUN!

The crew included Ethan Jalbert, Dunbarton, sophomore at Quinnipiac University, majoring in biology and Deon Mendes; Molly DiPadova, Newport, sophomore at UNH, double majoring in English and justice studies and Oliver Shaw, Concord, sophomore at New England College majoring in creative writing.

The cast includes Kyle Hines as Mason, seventh grader at Plainfield Elementary School, “I loved meeting all the new people and making a movie together.”

Connor Clark as Denny, is a sixth-grader at Newport Middle School and a resident of Newport. “An awesome experience.”

Cashlyn Smith as Brenna, sixth-grader at Byram Hills School District, Armonk, N.Y., “I’ve never been on a movie set before and didn’t know what to expect but thanks to Danielle’s vision for the film, it was an unforgettable introduction in filmmaking. Even though we all arrived as strangers, within a couple of days of shooting it was like we were one big family and I will never forget it. I had a blast!”

William Sandmann as Butch.

Avery Bevilacqua as the Opera House Ghost, Goshen, N.H.

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