William F. White celebrates 50 years of shaping film and TV

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VO: In our last interview, you mentioned the importance of finding someone who has complimentary skill sets and common business values. How does that relate to your relationship with Mr. Cannell?

PB: Stephen was a very strong people-person and he attracted very bright people. In turn, the Cannel Film Organization developed a very strong culture. To this day there’s a Cannel Films alumni group, which I’m proudly part of. It was a culture of personal and professional growth, being encouraged, openness, transparency, problems are discussed out in the open… it was a very unique company and it had some of the best people I’ve ever met in this business.

A good partnership like Stephen and I had was really a give and take. It wasn’t who had the best idea but what idea was best for the business. It was non-ego driven. It was really all about building the business and ultimately, making sure our clients were happy. It was very collaborative, and we had complimentary skill sets.

I don’t separate the personal from the business. I think one’s personal values are the same as one’s business values. If someone is cheating on his wife, they’ll cheat in business too. Stephen and our partners shared common personal and business values: family, close friends, good health. It was a very congenial organization with a lot of talent.

Photo credit: Christopher Guy

VO: You once said, "I think of myself, simply, as someone with good partners. These partnerships exist within my organization and with my colleagues in the industry at large." - In light of Comweb's 25 year celebration, William F. White’s 50 years and many good partners along the way, what makes a good partnership last?

PB: Openness, communication, transparency, and going through adversity. Seeing what the other person is made of. I think as long as it’s open, transparent dialogue and nothing is hidden, and there’s nothing hidden apart from doing what’s best for the business. There are no guarantees so you want to spend time with potential partners before you do business together. Before we signed the Cannell-Comweb partnership, it was a yearlong dialogue. We went through every point imaginable so that by the time we started work together, we were in sync. I’ve tried to model my other partnerships after the one I had with Stephen.

VO: Your endeavors have shaped BC's film infrastructure and have engendered a flourishing film & TV industry. Unfortunately, the current stance of BC's Liberal government has devastated the job security of many film & TV workers. In the spirit of good partnership and building towards the future, how should the film & TV community partner with the government in finding solutions to keep a thriving film & TV industry in BC?

PB: Again, it’s about open dialogue and communication. I don’t think it’s really fair to blame the government for some of the challenges BC has been having. Increasing tax credits from 33% to 40% for film and TV productions—even though it doesn’t sound like a lot—is going to re-equalize the playing field and make Vancouver more attractive than it’s been. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Vancouver other than the fact that the tax credits in other jurisdictions have become more attractive. There’s too much talent, too much infrastructure, too many great people, variety of locations… it’s got it all.

I hope that the young people can continue to hone their crafts too. We as a company, Whites/Comweb, we’re going to continue doing our best to train people, to bring them in our facilities, to have our technical folks do some teaching and provide some equipment for young filmmakers to learn on. As long as we develop the talent, that’s the main thing, as long as we continue to develop the crew, the expertise, then I think we’re going to be in good shape. I’m excited about the future.

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