Bardya Ziaian: Underdog Filmmaker Overcomes Pandemic

Bardya Ziaian has always wanted to make movies.

From writing to producing to acting, the filmmaking industry not only intrigued Bardya — it called to him.

But there was one catch: he didn’t have any prior experience in the film industry.

“I’ve always had a dream of bringing stories to life on screen,” Ziaian said. “Even with no experience in the industry, I knew I had to try it.”

Ziaian understood that producing his first film would be challenging, but what he didn’t know was that he would be doing it during a global pandemic.

He had to learn not just the basics of filmmaking, but how to manage the realities of workplaces during COVID-19. It’s important to make sure everyone on set feels comfortable and safe to ensure the best possible performances, even under less-than-ideal circumstances, Ziaian said.

Bringing the film to completion required constant leadership from Ziaian, who provided unwavering support for the many team members that made this possible.

Through many trials and tribulations, Ziaian led a 60-person film team through the trying times of a global pandemic to create his first film, a comedy called “Super Dicks.”

The Dream

Bardya Ziaian’s prior professional experience revolved around managing corporate finances.

His past work experience includes his time as President & CEO of Pario Technologies Corp.; most recently, he leads SITTU Group Inc., a think tank and consulting management firm.

Ziaian always knew that making a film without any experience would be an uphill battle. But, he also felt his experience in the financial industry would help him. After all, he already understood — and had experience in — managing large teams of employees and complex projects.

This would be a new challenge — one that he was excited to meet.

“At my core, I’m a learner,” Ziaian said. “I had no film background, but I wanted to dive in and learn all I could about the industry. I’ve always believed that if there’s something you want to do, you shouldn’t be afraid to try it.”

The Challenges

While film production had started for Baryda Ziaian and his team prior to the pandemic, he didn’t let it slow them down once the worst of the lockdowns began in Canada and the US.

It did present certain challenges, but many of the actors and film crew might not have had other work opportunities, Ziaian said. As a result, they didn’t have much hesitation about moving forward with the project.

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“My crew and I started to research and script development for the film prior to COVID-19 hitting the country,” he said. “Although the pandemic didn’t actually slow us down too much, we did have the option to postpone. In the end, I’m so glad that I made the choice to continue filming.”

Ziaian wasn’t working with an ordinary film crew, either.

He wanted every role — from scriptwriters to financial accountants, and even production managers — to be filled with in-house team members.

“It took a lot of work and creative problem-solving, but we made it through,” he said. “I spent a lot of time upfront by myself: scriptwriting, hiring actors, finding funding, and the initial production work. I really wanted to accomplish this on our own, and we kind of had to do it on our own because we didn’t have many connections in the film industry. We didn’t know the details of filmmaking or some expert to show us the basics. But I felt that if we just had enough determination and passion, we could pull this off.”

The Lesson

Ziaian has always had an innate desire to learn more, try more, and do more. “My team and I have learned so much through this process,” he said. “I’ve always pushed myself and my teams outside of the comfort zone to learn and grow. And I think making this film truly attests to that philosophy.”

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan