Jul 20, 2018
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Front Page, Industry News

Allegations of corruption surface at one of Toronto’s most established Film Services businesses

By TO411 Staff Writer
Daisy McLean

Founded in 1963, William F. White International (WFW) is Canada’s oldest and largest provider of motion picture, television and theatrical production equipment.

In a shocking development, the company has filed suit against two of its former top executives, Bill White Jr. and Larry Sacchetti.

According to an article released last week by the Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alleges that both men were involved in kickback schemes. Film production equipment vendors Kingsway Motion Picture Ltd. and Theatricus Inc. were also named in the suit.

Among other corrupt practices, it is alleged they engaged in unauthorized cash dealings when renting and cross-renting equipment on behalf of WFW.

In defense statements filed with the Ontario court, the accused argue that they did so with the knowledge of the company to circumvent capital expenditure restrictions.

While it is not the first lawsuit of this kind in the film industry, it is the first to garner public attention. This attention raises some pertinent questions: Just how long has this been going on? How will this affect Toronto’s film industry? 

I spoke to an executive in the film production sector of Toronto who had this to say: “Twenty-five years ago it was the norm. People paid people for stuff. Everything was under the table; I give you this bottle of scotch, you give me the deal, whatever.” 

“The older generation was like that, a movie would come to town and they would pay these guys, send them out on fishing trips or do fancy stuff for them so they could get the show. That kind of stuff was the norm in the city. I’m sure it still goes on.”

Another executive out of the production sector told me, “It definitely goes on. It goes on in the film industry, it goes on in the broadcast industry, it goes on in the advertising industry. It goes on in the shoe industry, I’m sure!”

He continues, “It happens. Some people have the integrity not to let it happen, but the great majority let it go… I’ve worked with guys who built a cottage for a director and then shot their commercials there. It happens all the time it just gets disguised in different ways, and in the film business it happens more because the prize is bigger.”

So if kickback schemes in the film industry have been going on for decades with the majority of businesses participating, just what does going public mean for the future of film in Toronto?

“Right now, because we’ve been struggling so hard for the last five years, I’m more worried about the repercussions this will have for Toronto’s reputation because we just got work back in town. We’re looking at, for the first time in a long time, giving people raises. To have that negative reaction about Toronto – that scares me. The work is so fragile and could just disappear tomorrow, and if I’m a big studio, I’m going to think twice about filming in Toronto.”

“We’ve had enough hard times with SARS and everything else. You have to have faith in people and it doesn’t bode well for our industry. To see that some people are benefiting – it’s just such a reflection on our industry.”

The ethics of kickbacks can lie in the gray area of corporate conduct because they aren’t out-right bribery, but nor are they genuine commissions. Executives can easily find themselves in situations of moral ambiguity.

“For example, I know someone who has hired staff whose job is just to go out and party. Party to get work, to go out and party with the guys. I think you have to watch where the line is.”

So where does it stop? There are long strings of influences and control within the industry, even today, and the lawsuit of William F. White International Inc. v. Larry Sacchetti et al. has just scratched the surface. But they’ve made a stand. They’ve drawn the line. 

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Front Page, Industry News

Allegations of corruption surface at one of Toronto’s most established Film Services businesses

By TO411 Staff Writer
Daisy McLean

Founded in 1963, William F. White International (WFW) is Canada’s oldest and largest provider of motion picture, television and theatrical production equipment.

In a shocking development, the company has filed suit against two of its former top executives, Bill White Jr. and Larry Sacchetti.

According to an article released last week by the Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alleges that both men were involved in kickback schemes. Film production equipment vendors Kingsway Motion Picture Ltd. and Theatricus Inc. were also named in the suit.

Among other corrupt practices, it is alleged they engaged in unauthorized cash dealings when renting and cross-renting equipment on behalf of WFW.

In defense statements filed with the Ontario court, the accused argue that they did so with the knowledge of the company to circumvent capital expenditure restrictions.

While it is not the first lawsuit of this kind in the film industry, it is the first to garner public attention. This attention raises some pertinent questions: Just how long has this been going on? How will this affect Toronto’s film industry? 

I spoke to an executive in the film production sector of Toronto who had this to say: “Twenty-five years ago it was the norm. People paid people for stuff. Everything was under the table; I give you this bottle of scotch, you give me the deal, whatever.” 

“The older generation was like that, a movie would come to town and they would pay these guys, send them out on fishing trips or do fancy stuff for them so they could get the show. That kind of stuff was the norm in the city. I’m sure it still goes on.”

Another executive out of the production sector told me, “It definitely goes on. It goes on in the film industry, it goes on in the broadcast industry, it goes on in the advertising industry. It goes on in the shoe industry, I’m sure!”

He continues, “It happens. Some people have the integrity not to let it happen, but the great majority let it go… I’ve worked with guys who built a cottage for a director and then shot their commercials there. It happens all the time it just gets disguised in different ways, and in the film business it happens more because the prize is bigger.”

So if kickback schemes in the film industry have been going on for decades with the majority of businesses participating, just what does going public mean for the future of film in Toronto?

“Right now, because we’ve been struggling so hard for the last five years, I’m more worried about the repercussions this will have for Toronto’s reputation because we just got work back in town. We’re looking at, for the first time in a long time, giving people raises. To have that negative reaction about Toronto – that scares me. The work is so fragile and could just disappear tomorrow, and if I’m a big studio, I’m going to think twice about filming in Toronto.”

“We’ve had enough hard times with SARS and everything else. You have to have faith in people and it doesn’t bode well for our industry. To see that some people are benefiting – it’s just such a reflection on our industry.”

The ethics of kickbacks can lie in the gray area of corporate conduct because they aren’t out-right bribery, but nor are they genuine commissions. Executives can easily find themselves in situations of moral ambiguity.

“For example, I know someone who has hired staff whose job is just to go out and party. Party to get work, to go out and party with the guys. I think you have to watch where the line is.”

So where does it stop? There are long strings of influences and control within the industry, even today, and the lawsuit of William F. White International Inc. v. Larry Sacchetti et al. has just scratched the surface. But they’ve made a stand. They’ve drawn the line. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Front Page, Industry News

Allegations of corruption surface at one of Toronto’s most established Film Services businesses

By TO411 Staff Writer
Daisy McLean

Founded in 1963, William F. White International (WFW) is Canada’s oldest and largest provider of motion picture, television and theatrical production equipment.

In a shocking development, the company has filed suit against two of its former top executives, Bill White Jr. and Larry Sacchetti.

According to an article released last week by the Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alleges that both men were involved in kickback schemes. Film production equipment vendors Kingsway Motion Picture Ltd. and Theatricus Inc. were also named in the suit.

Among other corrupt practices, it is alleged they engaged in unauthorized cash dealings when renting and cross-renting equipment on behalf of WFW.

In defense statements filed with the Ontario court, the accused argue that they did so with the knowledge of the company to circumvent capital expenditure restrictions.

While it is not the first lawsuit of this kind in the film industry, it is the first to garner public attention. This attention raises some pertinent questions: Just how long has this been going on? How will this affect Toronto’s film industry? 

I spoke to an executive in the film production sector of Toronto who had this to say: “Twenty-five years ago it was the norm. People paid people for stuff. Everything was under the table; I give you this bottle of scotch, you give me the deal, whatever.” 

“The older generation was like that, a movie would come to town and they would pay these guys, send them out on fishing trips or do fancy stuff for them so they could get the show. That kind of stuff was the norm in the city. I’m sure it still goes on.”

Another executive out of the production sector told me, “It definitely goes on. It goes on in the film industry, it goes on in the broadcast industry, it goes on in the advertising industry. It goes on in the shoe industry, I’m sure!”

He continues, “It happens. Some people have the integrity not to let it happen, but the great majority let it go… I’ve worked with guys who built a cottage for a director and then shot their commercials there. It happens all the time it just gets disguised in different ways, and in the film business it happens more because the prize is bigger.”

So if kickback schemes in the film industry have been going on for decades with the majority of businesses participating, just what does going public mean for the future of film in Toronto?

“Right now, because we’ve been struggling so hard for the last five years, I’m more worried about the repercussions this will have for Toronto’s reputation because we just got work back in town. We’re looking at, for the first time in a long time, giving people raises. To have that negative reaction about Toronto – that scares me. The work is so fragile and could just disappear tomorrow, and if I’m a big studio, I’m going to think twice about filming in Toronto.”

“We’ve had enough hard times with SARS and everything else. You have to have faith in people and it doesn’t bode well for our industry. To see that some people are benefiting – it’s just such a reflection on our industry.”

The ethics of kickbacks can lie in the gray area of corporate conduct because they aren’t out-right bribery, but nor are they genuine commissions. Executives can easily find themselves in situations of moral ambiguity.

“For example, I know someone who has hired staff whose job is just to go out and party. Party to get work, to go out and party with the guys. I think you have to watch where the line is.”

So where does it stop? There are long strings of influences and control within the industry, even today, and the lawsuit of William F. White International Inc. v. Larry Sacchetti et al. has just scratched the surface. But they’ve made a stand. They’ve drawn the line. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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