Film and Media Arts

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Sally Helppie

Sally Helppie

Sally Helppie

Adjunct Professor

Sally Helppie is a lawyer and film producer. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, where she was a teaching assistant, member of the national Moot Court team, and Melvin Belli advocacy scholarship winner. She currently practices entertainment law and business litigation at Vincent Serafino Geary Waddell Jevevein, P.C.

Helppie’s entertainment law practice runs the gamut from representing 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, prepares production contracts and litigates disputes. She has performed legal work on such films as The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp; The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt; Windsor, starring Barry Corbin; and Martin Scorsese’s 3-D feature Hugo. Similarly, she has negotiated and drafted contracts for multiple television pilots and series, including Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, The Glee Project, Discovery ID’s Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence, The Bachelor, Children’s Medical Center, Donna Decorates Dallas and Texas Troubadours.

Helppie also is a seasoned trial attorney who has been lead counsel in literally hundreds of cases on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses and individuals. She has tried cases before juries in state and federal courts, and has represented parties all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to her legal work, Helppie is an award-winning producer and CEO of Advocate Pictures, LLC. She produced the action thriller Exit Speed, starring Lea Thompson, Desmond Harrington and Fred Ward; The Beacon, a supernatural chiller starring Teri Polo, David Rees Snell, Michael Ironside, Elaine Hendrix and Ken Howard; Beyond the Farthest Star, a family-friendly feature starring Renee O’Connor and Todd Terry; and Infiltrators, starring Nathalie Kelley, Robert Picardo, Steve Railsback, Greg Jbara and Hallee Hirsh.

Helppie is a past chair of the State Bar of Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section as well as the Dallas Bar Association’s Entertainment, Art & Sports Law Section (where she currently serves on the Council). She is a member and past chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Business Litigation Section (which won the Section of the Year award under her leadership) and a member of the Dallas Producers Association and Women in Film-Dallas. She serves on the Board of Directors of Tall Castle, Inc., a non-profit film production corporation.


J.D., University of California at Los Angeles School of Law
B.A. Journalism, summa cum laude, California State University at Northridge

Professional Experience

Feature film producer
Practicing attorney


Producers Seminar (graduate and undergraduate)
Media Career Preparation
Entertainment Law (SMU Dedman School of Law)

Selected Articles and Presentations

Five Essential Steps to Protect Your Writer-Client, Dallas Bar Association Headnotes 2017; 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, 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; Movie Production: Do I have to pay for that? Christian Media Association 2010.


Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts

Undergraduate Studies

Classes (See Catalog)


Faculty and Staff

Summer Film Production

Student Opportunities

Internships and Collaborations


SMU Meadows Licensed Music Rights