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And Now, Our Report From Cannes

Thebeacon What with blogging and twittering and all, we weren't able to make it to Cannes this year for the annual gathering of the film world's glitterati. One Texas lawyer did find the time to attend, and where Texas lawyers go, so goes Tex Parte Blog, in spirit if not in fact.

Jenny B. Davis posts there about Sally Helppie, a practicing lawyer in Dallas who more than moonlights as a movie producer. Of counsel to the firm Tipton Jones, where she practices entertainment law and commercial litigation, Helppie is just back from Cannes after screening her latest film, "The Beacon," at the Marché Du Film, an industry gathering that runs alongside the higher-profile Festival de Cannes. This year, Helppie tells Davis, she was selected as a member of the Producers Network, which gave her access to special conferences and cocktail parties.

In March, Texas Lawyer had a more in-depth profile of Helppie, who was a working actor in Hollywood before attending law school at UCLA. After graduating in 1985 and moving to Texas, she kept one foot in the entertainment world by representing writers, producers and others in the field. In 2006, one client approached her about starting a production company in Dallas, and her producing career was launched.

Described as a supernatural thriller, "The Beacon" is the second film her company, Sabbatical Pictures, has produced. The first, "Exit Speed," was an action film that had a limited theatrical release and is now out on DVD. The screenwriter for "Exit Speed," as it happens, is Helppie's husband, Michael Stokes, an award-winning professional writer.

And Helppie has no qualms about casting friends and family in her films. "Extras are not covered by SAG contracts, so you can let friends and relatives have walk-on parts without dealing with union contracts," she says. Not surprisingly, some of those friends also happen to be lawyers. In fact, one former colleague, Paul E. Coggins, a principal in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson and the former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, has had plum walk-on roles in both of Helppie's films -- as a doctor, not a lawyer.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 28, 2009 at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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