Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rule Brittania

I officially became a British citizen yesterday.

Don't worry, I haven't lost my love for the good ole US of A. I still love baseball, mom and apple pie. (OK, not so much with the apple pie; I prefer cherry pie, but still...)

As some of you loyal dozens of readers know, I've mentioned in the past that I'm half-English on my dad's side, so I qualify as a dual-citizen. So why go through all the time and expense (seven frakkin' months and $439!!!) to get my UK passport?

As a UK citizen, if I sell one of my screenplays to a UK producer, any movie we shoot qualifies for certain tax breaks; even more so if we were to shoot in Britain or in the Commonwealth, like Canada or Australia. Both of the scripts I optioned were to UK producers (evidently, their standards are A LOT lower than US producers!), so the tax credit thing was actually a factor in my favor.

Plus, I get the thrill of being like my new fellow countryman, James Bond, carrying the multiple passports and all.

Also, the UK passport allows me to work anywhere in Europe without a visa, because of the whole EU thing. When I optioned my first script a few years ago, that producer was extremely inept with a lot of things (he sent me a list of potential directors which included John Frankenheimer, who was a great director WHEN HE WAS ALIVE) but one thing he did know was about all the financing that goes on with other countries these days.

That's one of the big ways films and TV shows are made, filming in locales outside of LA because of production costs. Almost every state in the union now tax credits for filming there, and the state of Georgia recently increased the benefits to filmmakers who shoot here and use Georgia crews. (They even get a little bit extra if they somehow mention Georgia, I think.) When I visited the Austin Film Festival last year, members of the Texas Film Commission were there lobbying filmmakers to shoot in the state and not go to neighboring Louisiana, which was offering even bigger financial incentives at the time.

That's why you see so many TV shows shoot in Vancouver or other parts of Canada; it's all about the incentives. Generally, most shows shoot where they get the maximum amount in incentives, then shoot exterior shots in the actual city where the show is set. That's why there have been US-produced TV made as far away as Australia; believe it or not, it's cheaper.

Anyway, I don't know how effective a Brit I will make, so maybe it's a good thing I'm staying here for the foreseeable future. When I told my dad yesterday about getting my passport, he asked me if I knew the lyrics to "God Save The Queen."

"Does the Sex Pistols version count?" I said.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Fellow Brit Simon Cowell went nuts apparently in his praise of David Archuleta over David Simon in last night's "American Idol." But it's the voters who decide, and we will find out the results tonight (Fox, 8 p.m.) in the two-hour finale. Not to criticize my fellow Americans, but these are the same voters who picked Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee, so there's no accounting for taste.

CBS wraps up the seasons of "Criminal Minds" at 9 p.m. and "CSI: NY" at 10 p.m., while "Law & Order" (NBC, 10 p.m.) also draws to a close for the season.

Finally, "Boston Legal" (ABC, 10 p.m.) celebrates American justice with a case where the partners square off about a town that tries to secede from the union. Seriously, town, just go for dual citizenship.


Hotspur said...

Congratulations !!! Now you need to follow cricket, know that football is soccer not the American game and read the cartoon strip "Andy Capp".

Seriously British TV and Theatre (correct spelling) is much better. Masterpiece Theatre is much better serious drama than anything else on TV.

zodin2008 said...

Congratulations. Perhaps you can convince your fellow Brit Anthony Head to stop doing London stage productions and come back to the U.S. so we can see the man who played Giles on "Buffy" do some episodes of "Dollhouse" as an obvious pick for a love interest/rival of the programs head, played by "The Sixth Sense" star and fellow Brit, Olivia Williams.

Just my 2 cents.

Phillip Ramati said...

Hotspur, I will never, ever, ever follow cricket.

Zod, yeah, all of us Brits know each other, so it shouldn't be a problem for me to call my good buddy Tony.