Sally Helppie

Sally Helppie

Location:
Dallas, Texas
Phone:
214-979-7411
Fax:
214-979-7402
Email:

Sally C. Helppie is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, where she was a Teaching Assistant, member of the national moot court team, Melvin Belli advocacy scholarship recipient and winner of the Distinguished Advocate award.  She practices entertainment law and litigation.

 

Entertainment Law

Sally’s entertainment law practice runs the gamut from representing very high-budget Hollywood productions to small independent producers, as well as individual writers, actors and financiers. She negotiates acquisitions and distribution, drafts a wide variety of financing documents, advises on insurance and bonds, addresses Guild and Union matters, handles copyright and trademark issues, performs script clearances, prepares production contracts, and litigates disputes. She has performed the legal work on numerous narrative and documentary films, with budgets ranging from $100,000.00 to more than $100 million.  Sally also has negotiated and drafted contracts for numerous television pilots and series on broadcast, cable and OTT networks.

 

Litigation

Sally also is a seasoned trial attorney whose litigation work emphasizes contracts and business torts, trademark and copyright issues.  Her practice encompasses all aspects of commercial trials and appeals before the state and federal courts, as well as various arbitration panels. Sally has been lead counsel in literally hundreds of cases on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses and individuals.  She has won many cases before juries in state and Federal courts, and has successfully represented parties at all levels of appeal. Her litigation background also has proved to be invaluable in negotiating and understanding complicated entertainment deals.  Sally has consistently been rated AV® Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell (its highest rating) for both legal ability and ethical standards.

 

Film Producer

In addition to her legal work, Sally is an award-winning producer and CEO of Advocate Pictures, LLC, a full-service production company.  Sally produced the 2008 action thriller, “Exit Speed,” the 2009 chiller, “Haunting at the Beacon,” the 2012 family-friendly “Beyond the Farthest Star,” and the 2014 action-packed “Infiltrators. Sally currently is working on a feature-length documentary film regarding an educational program in her home state of Michigan.

 

Teaching

Sally has been an Adjunct Professor in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts since 2011, where she teaches two semester-long courses:  The Producers’ Seminar and Media Career Preparation.  In 2016, she also was named Director of the Small Business and Trademark Clinic at the SMU Dedman School of Law.  Sally is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and law schools, has presented at numerous industry events and film festivals, and regularly speaks at CLE seminars across the state.

 

Professional Organizations

Sally is the past Chair of the Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.  She was the 2011 Chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Sports & Entertainment Law Section (renamed the Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section) and currently serves on the Council.  She is past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Business Litigation Section (which won the Section of the Year award under her leadership), and a past-chair of the Dallas Bar’s Judicial Evaluation subcommittee.  She has been selected for the Producers’ Network at the Cannes Film Festival and is a member of Women in Film-Dallas, and the Dallas Producers Association. She serves on the board of directors for Tall Castle, Inc., a non-profit educational film corporation.

Areas of Practice

  • Entertainment Law
  • Commercial and Business Litigation
  • Contracts and Business Torts
  • Trademark and Copyright

Bar Admissions

  • Texas, 1985
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas

Education

  • University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, Los Angeles, California
    • J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence - 1985
    • Honors: UCLA National Moot Court Team
    • Honors: Elected to National Order of Barristers
    • Honors: Teaching Assistant, Legal Research & Writing
    • Honors: Melvin Belli Advocacy Scholarship Recipient
    • Honors: Winner, Distinguished Advocate Award
  • California State University, Northridge, California
    • B.A., Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude - 1982
    • Honors: Best Writer Award, Journalism Department
    • Honors: National and State awards for speech, debate, and dramatic arts
    • Honors: Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism Honor Society
    • Major: Journalism
    • Minor: Speech Communication
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Published Works

  • Clearing Films for E&O Insurance and Handling the Claims That Are Sure to Follow, 26th Annual Entertainment Law Institute co-presenter, 2016
  • Ethics and TV Lawyers, Mack Taylor Inn of Court , 2016
  • Back to the Drawing Board: Legal Issues in the Animation Industry, Dallas Bar Association , 2016
  • Copyright Basics: Celebrating the Creator, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes , 2016
  • Why Do I Need a Lawyer? , Legal Panel, Dallas International Film Festival , 2015
  • It’s Only a Movie, Legal Panel on ethics, State Bar of Texas Convention , 2015
  • The Works and Career of John Avildsen, SMU, 2015
  • Current Trends in Film and Television Finance, Entertainment Law Institute , 2014
  • Guilds and Unions in a Right to Work State, Entertainment Law Institute, 2014
  • Introduction to Entertainment Law: What To Know Before You Shoot, Christian Media Association National Convention , 2014
  • DIY Media Distribution: Eliminating the Middleman, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes , 2014
  • Making Money in a Digital Age, Dallas Bar Association Entertainment Law Boot Camp , 2013
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Reality TV Shows, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, 2012
  • Today’s Contract, Tomorrow’s Lawsuit: Entertainment Contracts from the Litigator’s Perspective, co-author and co-presenter, Entertainment Law Institute , 2012
  • So You Want To Be In Pictures: Does it pay to loan your property for a movie location? , Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, 2012
  • Copyright Basics and Script Clearance, El Paso Classic Film Festival , 2011
  • Film Distribution for the Independent Producer: Strategies and Negotiations, Entertainment Law Institute , 2010
  • Coming to a theater near you: From Script to Screen, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, 2010
  • Add a Dash of Lawyer: A Recipe For Successful Film and Television Production, Boot Camp for Lawyers and Non-Lawyers , 2010
  • Overview of Entertainment Law for Paralegals in Texas, Dallas Paralegals Association , 2010
  • Financing Independent Film Productions, Entertainment Law Institute, 2009
  • Independent Film Production in Texas: Combining the Legal with the Creative, Dallas Bar Association , 2008
  • Litigation Ethics, Stromar Legal Education Seminar , 2001
  • Updates on Evidence, Stromar Legal Education Seminar , 2000
  • How to Present Financial Information at Trial, South Texas College of Law , 1999
  • Theming a Case for Trial, DBA Bench/Bar Conference , 1999
  • Independent Film Financing Beyond PPMs, 25th annual Entertainment Law Institute, 2015
  • A Producer Comes Calling: five essential steps to protecting your writer-client, Dallas Bar Association headnotes, 2017

University Courses

  • Adjunct Professor, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, Producers' Seminar, 2011 - Present
  • Adjunct Professor, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, Media Career Preparation course, 2015 - Present
  • Guest Lecturer, Texas A&M Law School, University of North Texas Law School, Texas Christian University, KD College, Dallas Institute of the Arts
  • Director and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law, Small Business and Trademark Clinic, 2016 - Present
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law, Entertainment Law, 2017 - Present

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section, Past CHair
  • Dallas Bar Association Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section, Council Member and Past Chair
  • Dallas Bar Association Business Litigation Section, Member and Past Chair
  • Dallas Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Subcommittee, Past Chair
  • Dallas Producers Association, Member
  • Women in Film—Dallas, Member
  • National Order of Barristers, Member

Past Employment Positions

  • Bell Nunnally & Martin, PLLC, Partner
  • Johnson & Gibbs, P.C. (f/k/a Johnson & Swanson), Partner and Associate

Selected Articles and Presentations

  • Why Do I Need a Lawyer? Legal Panel, Dallas International Film Festival 2015
  • It’s Only a Movie Legal Panel on ethics, State Bar of Texas Convention 2015
  • The Works and Career of John Avildsen, SMU 2015
  • Current Trends in Film and Television Finance, Entertainment Law Institute 2014
  • Guilds and Unions in a Right to Work State, Entertainment Law Institute 2014
  • Introduction to Entertainment Law: What To Know Before You Shoot, Christian Media Association National Convention 2014
  • DIY Media Distribution: Eliminating the Middleman, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes 2014
  • Making Money in a Digital Age, Dallas Bar Association Entertainment Law Boot Camp 2013
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Reality TV Shows, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes 2012
  • Today’s Contract, Tomorrow’s Lawsuit: Entertainment Contracts from the Litigator’s Perspective, Entertainment Law Institute 2012
  • So You Want To Be In Pictures: Does it pay to loan your property for a movie location? Dallas Bar Association Headnotes 2012
  • Copyright Basics and Script Clearance, El Paso Classic Film Festival 2011
  • Film Distribution for the Independent Producer: Strategies and Negotiations, Entertainment Law Institute 2010
  • Coming to a theater near you: From Script to Screen, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, 2010
  • Add a Dash of Lawyer: A Recipe For Successful Film and Television Production, Boot Camp for Lawyers and Non-Lawyers 2010
  • Overview of Entertainment Law for Paralegals in Texas, Dallas Paralegals Association 2010
  • Financing Independent Film Productions, Entertainment Law Institute 2009
  • Independent Film Production in Texas: Combining the Legal with the Creative, Dallas Bar Association 2008
  • Litigation Ethics, Stromar Legal Education Seminar, 2001
  • Updates on Evidence, Stromar Legal Education Seminar, 2000
  • How to Present Financial Information at Trial, South Texas College of Law 1999
  • Theming a Case for Trial, DBA Bench/Bar Conference 1999

Pro Bono Activities

  • Board of Directors, Tall Castle, Inc.
  • Champions of Wayne