US media law firm opens in Derry

Seamus McKinney

A US media law firm whose clients include major film companies such as Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and HBO has opened a new office in Derry.

SmithDehn Northern Ireland (SDNI) is recruiting for its new venture based at Artillery Street in the city centre.

Since announcing plans to come to Derry, the firm has become involved in the University of Ulster's law school, teaching media law at the Magee campus.

At the official opening of the firm's new office on Saturday night, SDNI chief executive Russell Smith said his company hoped to hire and train "legal talent" from across Ireland to work with its clients and on their projects.

The company's project involvement in the past has included Da Ali G Show, Borat and Bafta-winner The Imposter.

Mr Smith said the Derry office would also be home to a new company, Social Construct Media which would focus on international film and television development, financing, production and sales. The new company unveiled plans for a film project which it described as a "positive, uplifting, scripted drama about Northern Ireland".

Mr Smith said his company's experience in Derry has already been positive through the university media law course.

"It has proven to us that in and around Derry and the north west of Ireland, there is an amazing supply of under-utilised talent," he said.

"We want a European front office, not a back office.

"We want to hire creative, intelligent, energetic and dynamic people who will wow our clients, step onto the global stage and eventually represent us at film and television festivals and markets such as Cannes and Berlin."

Eugene McNamee, head of the University of Ulster's law school, said the SDNI's course had been an extraordinary success.

"The number and expertise of the visiting lecturers have been outstanding and unprecedented," Dr McNamee said.


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