SmithDehn Northern Ireland and Social Construct Media, two new international film/TV-related companies, have announced their formation and offices on Artillery Street in Derry, Northern Ireland. At a launch party in Derry, attended by HBO executives, Derry City officials, filmmakers, production companies, and hundreds of other supporters from across the UK, the US, and Ireland, the two new companies announced bold plans for film and television development, financing, production, sales, and legal services. The local hiring process for these companies is already underway in both Northern Ireland and across the border, in the Republic of Ireland.
According to company officials, SmithDehn Northern Ireland ("SDNI") will be a "front office, not a back office," set up by US-based media and entertainment law firm, SmithDehn LLP SDNI plans to hire and train legal talent from across Northern Ireland and Ireland to service SmithDehn's hundreds of film/television clients regarding US legal matters. Dubbed "legal heavies" by The Wall Street Journal, SmithDehn's attorneys are the innovative legal architects behind path-breaking content such as DA ALI G SHOW and BORAT, and acclaimed features like SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (Oscar-winner) and THE IMPOSTER (BAFTA-winner). The client list of SmithDehn's US law firm includes broadcasters such as HBO, BBC America, Channel 4, and ITV; Hollywood studios such as Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Media Rights Capital; and leading production companies, like Raw TV, Passion Pictures, and Lion Television, to name a few.
SmithDehn also has combined resources with award-winning Social Construct Films, to form Social Construct Media, which both firms say will be a dynamic new force in international film and television development, financing, production and sales. Social Construct Films, a US-based, Sundance award-winning company with a diverse slate of completed feature films (including titles acquired by IFC, HBO, Lionsgate, and Tribeca), has established a growing presence in development, packaging and international sales.
By marshaling SmithDehn's international connections, financing abilities, and industry knowledge, together with the development, production and sales experience of Social Construct Films, Social Construct Media believes it is poised for success in Northern Ireland and around the world. Driven by a mission to explore socially relevant and meaningful themes, and to bring engaging, entertaining stories to audiences worldwide, Social Construct Media says it plans to leverage the formidable combined skills of its team to elevate audience awareness while simultaneously providing commercial success for independent filmmakers and investors alike. With a number of new projects for film and television already in development, and with an established presence in the US, UK and India, Social Construct Media plans to emerge as one of the leading providers of excellent media content internationally.
One of Social Construct Media NI's first film projects is said to be a positive, uplifting, scripted drama featuring Northern Ireland, arising from ideas to be developed by a local, cross-community story collective. At the moment, Social Construct Media NI has a slate of three films and three TV series planned for shooting and post-production in Northern Ireland, starting as early as this Fall.
In a related development, SmithDehn has announced the expansion of its well-known university course on the business and law of film and television. Along with top executives of HBO and Channel 4, who have helped teach this year's module at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster in Derry, SmithDehn has been training new producers and media law professionals for the film and television industry in NI and internationally. UU's Head of Law School, Dr. Eugene Mc Namee commented as follows: "The course has been a extraordinary success for the University and for Northern Ireland. The number and expertise of the visiting lecturers have been outstanding and unprecedented."
SmithDehn has announced plans to expand the course by running it on an annual basis. Says SmithDehn partner and Social Construct Media CEO Russell Smith: "Our film and television course in Derry has been a wildly successful experiment. It has proven to us that in and around Derry and the Northwest of Ireland, there is an amazing supply of under-utilized talent. 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. We know we can and will hire those people here."
In a similar vein, Social Construct Media's Creative Director and Founder Zak Kilberg said this: "Social Construct Films is thrilled to be in partnership with SmithDehn and to be launching our European company together, in Northern Ireland. There is a vast wealth of untapped creative talent, resources, and stories here. We're excited to connect all of this to the worldwide film and television market."