He was a petty criminal awaiting trial. Then he won £6.5 million ($10 million) in the U.K.’s national lottery. Now, after serving nine months inside, Lee Ryan has set up a film production company to make a movie of his life story.
Ryan’s Jailbird Prods. has teamed with Pilgrim Films, the company behind low-budgeters “Downtime” and “Killing Time,” to produce “It Could Be You.” Bharat Nalluri will direct and Richard Johns will produce.
And as a unique marketing gimmick, the producers are promising their own version of the lottery, with one person who buys a ticket to see the film on its U.K. release set to win £1 million ($1.6 million).
The Ryan story in capsule: A hapless teenage pilferer on one of the toughest estates in Leicester graduates into international car fraud. His lottery win generated a huge media frenzy in the U.K., and during his time in prison his new-found wealth and celebrity made him a target for fellow cons and wardens alike. Since regaining his freedom the media has documented his wild spending sprees — luxury cars, a mansion, a couple of helicopters. In addition to Jailbird Prods., his business interests now include Taylor-Ryan Helicopters, a Cornish nightclub and Heliclub, a social organization for helicopter owners.
This may not be the first time a crook has made a movie, but it may well be the first time one has been so open about it.