They’re going to put them in the movies.
He wants to do both a feature film for the big screen and a two-hour documentary or documentary series for the small screen on the Operation Jackpot drug-smuggling story that rocked the Lowcountry in the 1980s.
He has purchased the film rights to the definitive book on Operation Jackpot that Jason Ryan of Charleston spent four years researching: “Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs.”
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“We have a screenplay for the feature film that has been through three or four drafts,” said Ostergard. “In the last two or three weeks, we have started going out to the industry with it. We want a top-notch director on board.”
Ostergard, who said he has made more than 30 movies and whose Charleston studio has been used for the hit Bravo reality TV show, “Southern Charm,” said Hollywood is always looking for a good story.
“This is an incredible story,” he said.
Also, the studio is trying to find funding for a documentary called “The Gentlemen Smugglers.”
A 12-minute trailer and a shorter promotional piece from it have been produced, with convicted Jackpot smugglers talking openly about the marijuana and hashish smuggling ventures along the Lowcountry coast that netted them millions of dollars — and led to jail time for more than 100 participants.
Ostergard says the personalities of the smugglers are as good as the story itself.
And he thinks it is a tale for our times. In an online fundraising effort through Indiegogo, the documentary is pitched this way:
“The Gentlemen Smugglers are a fantastic group of colorful characters and have an amazing story. They were pioneers in the marijuana trade of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Their story is of historical significance filled with passion, intrigue, adventure, and capitalism. They had a zest for life and ethos on par with any successful corporation. Their story is stranger than fiction. Larger than life. These men were old fashioned nonviolent cowboys living in the 1970’s and 1980’s South. They did their time and served ridiculously long federal prison sentences. Now we want to share their story to the world.”
Incentives to entice donors ranged from a bottle opener and T-shirts to dinner or golf at the Ocean Course in Kiawah with Operation Jackpot kingpins Barry “Flash” Foy or Les Riley.
The online crowd-sourcing did not produce much, though. Ostergard said it is always difficult to finance documentaries. But it can be done, and he welcomes anyone who can help him reach an estimated $500,000 to “do it right” to contact him through Black Bear Studios.
“These guys were not crooks,” he said. “They’re unique individuals in their own way. They lived by their own code. It was a different time. I am interested in getting their story out.”