I am from the UK and have written a script which I think would work either side of the Atlantic. Though the theme is generic, some minor details would not seem authentic to an American reader as well as technical differences, such as spelling.
Should I send an amended US version to American agencies and a British one in the UK, or send the original version to both?
— Paul James
I don’t think there’s a wrong answer, but here’s what I would recommend if I were in your place.
If it really wouldn’t suffer from setting it in the U.S., then go for it. Keep your UK version for British agencies and filmmakers, and do up a separate-but-equal version for the U.S. (Hint: put a “UK” down by the date on the title page, so you can easily tell which one is which.) While most Hollywood folks are clever enough to realize that a good script is a good script, there’s always a chance that a reader will see “Bristol” and think, nope.
Next, if you do set it in America, with American characters, you’re probably better off using American spellings throughout. That way, there’s no weird disconnect when Tyrell starts talking about “gang colours.” And have a native-born American whose opinion you trust do a careful reading through your script, just to make sure there’s no dangling British-isms.
Having said this, a UK writer shouldn’t worry about being too British. Or Scottish. Or whatever. There’s a long history of talented filmmakers crossing the Atlantic to work in Hollywood (and vice-versa). You shouldn’t try to sublimate your natural writing style to match some mythical American standard — which all too often resembles the lowest common denominator. But if you decide to American-ize this script, make sure you do so thoroughly.