At the height of the pandemic, when most people were watching Netflix and finding comfort in routine, Bardya Ziaian was taking a crash course in film production. It was a subject he had never formally studied, but had always found fascinating. With a kind of clarity discovered after finding success in his life-long career, he vowed roughly a year before the global pandemic that he was going to make his creative dream come true. So, Bardya learned how to write a screenplay, and then, drawing from his years in finance, secured the funding: the first major hurdles were overcome. From there, he had many other challenges he would face to bring his first feature film to life, but he did it with the same determination he used in all of his entrepreneurial ventures. Bardya Pictures Ltd. officially launched in 2020.
How did the idea for Bardya Productions come about?
Bardya Ziaian: I admire great stories and I think everyone does. The scope of human history is sprinkled with great stories told well that share what it is to live in that time and in that particular place. Stories are vastly important, not just as entertainment, but also as cultural representations, an idea of what is happening during a certain time. Film is a magnificent force in the world that serves a variety of purposes: a vehicle of change, a historical record, a feeling of connection and, my favorite—much needed levity. We are constantly bombarded with the serious issues of the world now on our phones, and our computers and televisions. We really only escape now by choice. The average person reads something like seven minutes of literature a day, those few minutes before they fall asleep. So, films appear to be the best vehicles for storytelling these days. Besides, it feels, to me, that film is a next-level way to connect with an audience, and to make them laugh when laughter is so greatly needed.
What is your experience in the business world? How were you able to leverage it in the film industry?
Bardya Ziaian: I’ve long embraced the analytical side of my brain. I mean, my undergraduate and Master’s degrees are both in mathematics and then I went into software engineering. It wasn’t long before I founded BBS Securities and Virtual Brokers, which I later sold to CI Financial. I also founded Robo Advisor, which is a wealth management company and SITTU Group, a think tank company. I remain President and CEO of SITTU Group, where we consult with companies, design systems and invest in early-stage businesses.
I suppose my long history of leadership and launching businesses suggests that I’m always in start-up mode. I don’t know if it’s a common thought, but isn’t every film, essentially, a start-up? It’s an idea that you are getting investors and consumers behind. Film producers and entrepreneurs share a number of skills and I’d say, a mindset.
Starting a production company without prior experience and without insider knowledge was going to be challenging regardless of timing, but launching in the middle of a global pandemic was something we couldn’t foresee. Delaying was part of the early conversation, but knowing when to hit the accelerator and when to hit the brakes is something instinctive and garnered from years of entrepreneurship experience. It was the right time to move forward, even though it seemed counterintuitive. Sometimes you have to keep the momentum going and I would say that is especially true in the film industry.
How did you face challenges?
Bardya Ziaian: The same way I do in the business world: I build an exceptional team and we problem-solve together. Every business is as strong as the people who build it. Every film is, too. There were times that we didn’t agree and we had to work through that, and the final product is better because of it. Respectful disagreement is never a bad thing if it leads to discourse.
What are your future plans for Bardya Pictures?
Bardya Ziaian: Our first film, Super Dicks, which was produced during the pandemic, is full of an all-star cast: including Kim Coates (Netflix’s “Bad Blood”), Ambyr Childer (Netflix’s “You”), Marie Avgeropoulos (Nexflix “The 100”), and Michael Ironside (“Total Recall”).
I’m proud to have worked with such remarkable artists and realise the talent that is needed to bring a script to life.
We will soon begin production on a new comedy called Golden Boy, written by myself and Juliet Wang and directed by film veteran Damian Lee. Fortunately, we have again secured top talent for our second film, and it is hopefully a trend we will maintain.
My plan is to continue creating and learning, and bringing as much laughter to the world as possible.
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