Wayne says he was inspired to make Reversal of Fortune because of his daily interactions with homeless people in Los Angeles. "I thought to myself, 'What would happen if I actually was able to give someone $100,000 and the free will to do with it what they wanted to do?'" he says. "Would that turn their life around or would it create more problems?"
He says they searched extensively to find a subject like Ted before filming began. "We picked somebody who was able to pass a medical exam, a psychiatric evaluation, a drug test. When he did receive the money, I actually for the first time felt quite optimistic," Wayne says. "Ted had talked about wanting to get a one-bedroom apartment, a job, he was so happy. And I thought, 'Wow, this is really great. Because of me and someone else's money maybe this will really turn his life around.'"
While Ted received financial counseling to deal with his influx of money, his old habits died hard. Ted got a room but continued to sleep on the floor. He still collected cans and bottles, the primary way he'd survived for years. Ted also spread his wealth around—he says he paid off friends' debt, bought a friend a new car and himself a truck that cost $34,084.89. He also got married.
"You never think...the money's going to run out sooner or later," Ted says. "At the time I was living in L.A., and I thought with having that money, I could go back to Sacramento and reunite with my family, and that it would change everything. It did for a while—I had more friends than I could count."