Failure to Launch

Indie red

Nothing in that dubious résumé can explain Schaeffer's relentless belief that he's on the verge of huge success. And yet he's reluctant to find outside backers for his next project because "I would hate to have this one be the one that gets sold for $3.5 million at Sundance, when we finally took someone else's half a million bucks."

On the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, Schaeffer met his old pal Donny Ward to discuss their new film over Indian food in the East Village.

Returning to the last time things were good, Schaeffer and Ward are making the "unofficial sequel" to My Life's in Turnaround titled They're Out of the Business (unofficial because neither owns the rights to Turnaround). The duo plans to cobble together $300,000 of seed money with credit cards, loans, and friends. The story follows two guys in their 40s who once had a hit TV show, and are getting back together to make another show and re-create their glory days.

If Lucy Fell is Eric Schaeffer's most "profitable" film to date, taking in $2.4 million at the box office, even though it cost $3.5 million to make.
If Lucy Fell is Eric Schaeffer's most "profitable" film to date, taking in $2.4 million at the box office, even though it cost $3.5 million to make.

After talking over their plans, dinner conversation turned to the more mundane matter of traffic — a subject close to Schaeffer's heart, owing to the amount of time he spends commuting from New York City to a farmhouse he owns in Vermont.

"My philosophy is that I'd rather be going a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction than sitting in traffic in the right direction," Schaeffer said, describing how he was recently stuck in standstill traffic near Hartford, Connecticut, and found an alternative route that took him 80 miles out of the way in order to leap over the 15 miles of traffic. "So, Donny, if you were told it would be the same hour and a half to get through that 10 miles, would you do the drive or would you stay there?"

"I would just find something to do in Hartford. I'd wait for it to all go away."

"But what if you had to do those two choices?"

"I think I would just go somewhere else."

"No, you don't have that as a choice. These are the two choices. You could drive . . ."

"But that's my choice," Ward cut in. "I've decided that. That's my choice."

"Well, in this game we're playing now, that's not a choice."

"I quit the game. Just like I quit the highway. I would quit the road. I quit the game."

Schaeffer shook his head with supreme annoyance and returned to his food. For him, quitting just isn't an option.

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