He graduated from South Broward High School, studied film at the University of Central Florida, and then moved to New York, where he eventually ran into Abel Ferrara, an indie director. After Deutzman showed him a college project titled 3 by 3, 1 by 1, Ferrara produced a version that eventually screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

But Deutzman had trouble making a living in New York, where he found mostly unpaid jobs in the film industry. So he returned to South Florida this past February with hopes of landing a gig at a production company. After a series of interviews, he became frustrated to learn that paying jobs were just as tough to find in Miami.

"I walked out of the office, brought up eBay on my phone, bid on a metal detector, and didn't answer anyone's business calls after that," he says.

Anyone lost a diamond grill?
Brian Deutzman
Anyone lost a diamond grill?

Since March, he's spent 20 hours a week fulfilling his boyhood fantasy and living off people's detritus. Scores of well-off tourists get drunk on the beach every weekend, leaving plenty of rings, watches, and even gem-encrusted grills dropped in the sand. In only three months, Deutzman says, he's found about $4,000 worth of scrap gold.

As Deutzman's finds piled up, though, he made an unpleasant discovery about state law. Until 2005, amateur archaeologists were free to keep anything they found as long as they disclosed the location of their excavations to authorities — a rule that also applied to metal detectors. But that year, Florida did away with the program because of widespread noncompliance. (Only seven people regularly reported their finds, according to the Florida Public Archaeology Network.)

Now, any artifacts older than 50 years must be surrendered to the state's Division of Historical Resources. Earlier this year, a group of amateur archaeologists petitioned state Sen. Alan Hays of Umatilla to draft a bill that would reinstate the old rules, but the proposal never got off the ground.

Even worse, Florida law is head-scratchingly complex when it comes to finding valuables in or around the ocean. If lost rings or jewelry wash ashore or are hidden near the surface, it's generally OK to keep them. But any historical artifact found at sea needs to be reported to state officials, and would-be archaeologists are forbidden from excavating below the sand in state waters, which extend from the high-tide line to three miles out, says Corey Malcom, chief archaeologist at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

"It's not a finders-keepers world," adds Roger Smith, Florida's official underwater archaeologist, a $43,000-a-year position in Tallahassee.

Those murky rules are a real problem for serious metal detectors. They argue that not only are the rules rarely enforced and impossible to police, but also they ignore that detectors provide a free clean-up service, removing metal and glass objects that would be a nuisance to swimmers. Though scavengers might pocket the occasional old coin, they also bring big money to Florida.

"They need to realize this is a hobby and see what we do," Spratley says. "People come to Florida from all over with metal detectors in their suitcases."

On Deutzman's Fourth of July excursion to the waters off South Beach, it's a moot point. After just a few hours in the baking sun and roiling tide, he gives up and trudges home with the set of teeth rattling in a red satchel around his waist.

His pin-up beauty of a girlfriend, Karen, is waiting at their Mid-Beach apartment with a protein shake and hopeful eyes. When he throws his gruesome find on the table, she recoils and asks, "What kind of backward country are these from?"

Deutzman shakes his head sadly, but he knows he'll be back at it tomorrow, looking for whatever treasures that night's party crowd drunkenly drops on the sand.

"Relative to my peers, I feel very fortunate," he says. "I have no debt, no immediate need to take up work, and the ability to spit in the face of every cheap prick who thinks I should work for free to make them rich."

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