At age four, Doug Weiser had dreams of playing professional football. And Weiser has played on a lot of fields, both literally and figuratively.
The longtime Miamian has played college football and tennis, high school basketball, and drums professionally. He has sailed across the Atlantic, worked construction at summer camps, gone to law school, overseen the development of one of the toniest developments in Miami, run a real estate brokerage house in Aspen, Colorado, had an acting career in New York, co-written and produced a feature film starring Faye Dunaway and Kim Cattrall, and served as a volunteer firefighter. Somehow he managed the time to fall in love, get married, and have two children. But at 5’7” inches tall and barely 160 lbs., he never did realize his NFL aspirations.
Weiser, A.B.’78, J.D.’82, came to Miami Law last week to screen his latest venture, “Chapman,” the 2012 film he produced in partnership with Mpower, a Colorado-based youth empowerment program.
The screening took place at the Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami, which was followed by a question-and-answer period with Weiser, legal counsel for “Chapman” Simran Singh, J.D.’04, and the film’s director, Justin Owensby. The discussion was moderated by School of Communication Associate Professor Dr. John Soliday, who taught drama to Weiser in the late 1970s in the theatre department at UM.
“Basically, it’s the story of a man returning to his hometown to confront the demons he tried to leave behind years earlier,” said Weiser. “As the story unfolds it’s revealed that a tragic incident, the result of a love triangle, destroyed the relationship between the man and his best friend.”
The ultra-low budget independent feature film was shot in and around Aspen, Colorado, with several Mpower students working on the crew and Weiser’s home and property used for many of the scenes. The film stars Jesse Johnson, Chris Masterson, and Christine Woods and has been making the film festival circuit, winning Best Feature and Best Cinematography honors at the Newport International Film Festival in Wales, UK.
The oldest of three boys, Weiser was born in Cleveland but his family moved to Miami in 1969 when his father, Sherwood “Woody” Weiser, left his law practice in Ohio to pursue his passion for developing and operating hotels. Doug Weiser attended Ransom-Everglades School (then Ransom School for Boys) where, as a senior, he produced, sang, and danced in a production of, Two by Two, a musical about Noah preparing for the Great Flood; and thus began his interest in the performing arts.
Weiser attended Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, where the average winter temperature is in the teens, but by his third year, the dreary weather and his interest in a young lady from Miami conspired to bring him back home to Florida. He would spend his senior year at UM and the Ring Theater before entering the School of Law.
After law school, Weiser headed to New York City to become a working actor. He appeared on soaps, did some movie work, even came back to Miami to appear in three episodes of “Miami Vice.”
“I believe my law degree has always been valuable no matter what I was trying to do,” he said. “As an actor, I felt I was respected as someone who had succeeded at other things, or at least I was a novelty when going on auditions.”
Law school would also play a role in the next phase of Weiser’s life. For ten years, he would serve as the Senior VP of Development for The Continental Companies, overseeing the development of the Grand Bay Resort and Residences, including The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, on Key Biscayne. “Of course, it helped with contracts, condo documents, financing and marketing,” he said. “But in general, the critical thinking skills have been valuable in many things I’ve done. Being able to looking at challenging issues and problem solve in an orderly way is always a useful tool.”
Weiser is a member of the University of Miami’s President’s Council, as well as Aspen Country Day School’s Board of Trustees, and he has served as a volunteer firefighter in Basalt, Colorado since 2003. He lives there year-round with his wife and their 13-year-old son. Their 21-year-old daughter is a junior at Stanford University.
He is currently in pre-production on another independent film, a dark comedic thriller about demonic possession.
Doug Weiser with Dean Patricia D. White