Comedy series have been immune from runaway production, with only dramas making the trek to other countries, mostly Canada. That is about to change. ABC/ABC Studios’ single-camera pilot Galavant, a comedy fairytale written by Dan Fogelman, with Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken writing the music, will shoot in the UK, including Wales, employing some 150 locals. This is the first U.S. broadcast pilot to film in the UK since the country in April approved a tax credit that provides a 25% rebate on 80% of the production budget spent in the UK. Fox’s event series 24: Live Another Day was the first major U.S. TV series to set production in the UK after the new incentives were introduced. With the first U.S. pilot season under the new tax program just around the corner, will we see a boom of pilot production in the UK? That would actually be ironic because the British TV industry largely snubs the U.S. pilot system and goes straight to series with short orders.
The move to the UK is not as easy as relocating to Canada because productions that want to film on the European island have to pass a “cultural test” or be an UK co-production. Galavant features a largely British cast, led by star Joshua Sasse and co-star Vinnie Jones, while 24: Live Another Day is set in London. Then there is the production space crunch in London brought on by the tax incentives, which reportedly diverted Showtime/Sky Atlantic’s series Penny Dreadful, set in Victorian London, to Dublin, while Starz’s series Outlander is filming near Glasgow — from a converted warehouse space. To alleviate the situation, Film London recently made 1.25 million square feet of additional filming space available, just in time for pilot season.