Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Venturing out beyond exercise into movie productio

 

August 16, 2019

Bethanne Weiss and Kevin O'Neill

Many people in the Jewish community know Bethanne Weiss as an accomplished physical fitness guru and author of the book "Move Your Assets: From the Chair, Not the Bank," which garnered her the nickname the Asset Queen. Now she is moving her assets from the bank to take on the role of executive producer of the short film "Resemblance," which is in production in Oviedo and directed by writer, producer Kevin O'Neill.

Last March, Heritage wrote about the upcoming movie, which is about Dachua survivors of the Holocaust who live in a memory-care facility. The lead character, Dirk Kramer (played by Jordan Woods Robinson), is a professional actor employed at the facility as a pianist. Through his acting talents he sees a way that he can bring meaning to the residents' lives.

Weiss learned of the script through a friend of her husband, Jeffrey, and readily related to the events in the film after she and Jeffrey read the script together.

She was touched by the story line and considered investing in its production. Not many people know that while the ever-smiling, energetic Weiss led her fitness classes and wrote her book, she was also caring for her elderly parents, who were in assisted living. Her mother suffered from dementia. Both of her parents have passed away.

"In a million years-me be a producer of a movie?" Weiss thought. "I don't know what happened or what came over me, but I started crying when I read the script. I didn't know Kevin, but he has this understanding of memory care."

Weiss shared that while visiting her mother, she would see a woman at the memory-care facility who dressed "to the nines" every day. "I found out this woman had been a fashion editor of high-end fashion magazines. All these people have lives and look at them now," she said downcast.

She continued, "Yeah, this [film] is all about people that are just forgotten and it struck a nerve with me."

Weiss decided to invest in "Resemblance" also because she could relate to the lead actor's role. (Readers – no spoiler alerts here, you have to see the film to fully understand what Weiss means!)

Bethanne and Jeffrey met O'Neill for the first time at a Starbucks. As all this was happening, she also found many of her mother's letters and diaries that opened up a life her mother lived years before she married Weiss' father.

"I'm not doing this to make money," Weiss is quick to state, "but to help people."

Jeffrey expressed best what motivated her to invest:

"[Bethanne is] interested in the subject matter. It is something she is passionate about-the celebration of life. She is a daughter who went through certain things with her mom and dad and that makes her passionate. It is something she wants to promote and feels very strong about, and by producing this she is giving back-promoting the arts and local talent and hopefully everyone will benefit from this."

Weiss' brand isn't just exercise, but whole-wellness and part of that is being able to deal with and cope with aging parents and caring for their needs.

O'Neill agreed. "The reason she is doing this is because it is part of what her brand is about."

O'Neill has been in the film industry for more than 30 years. Most of his films intermingle the past and the present. He is also brilliant at twists in his plots, leading the audience in one direction, then completely turning the storyline in an "O. Henry" fashion-as viewers will see in "Resemblance." He also has support from leaders in the film industry. Hunter Via, head editor of "The 100," "The Walking Dead" and "Sons of Anarchy" read the "Resemblance" script and told O'Neill, "I believe this needs to be out there. So many people deny this [the Holocaust] even happened. This story needs to be told."

O'Neill has received 21 awards and 11 nominations for his films. His shorts have been shown at 11 film festivals, including the Orlando Film Festival, Central Florida Film Festival and LA Diversity Film Festival. He hopes to finish the film by November-in time for the Jewish Film Festival.

 

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