Bardya Ziaian’s success in the corporate world never quelled his fascination with filmmaking. Now, the career executive, whose resume includes leadership positions in Fintech, brokerage services and financial systems, is continuing to fulfill his more creative aspirations.
During the pandemic, the current CEO and president of SITTU Group Inc., a think tank based in Toronto, took the plunge into producing, writing and acting with an independent comedy film called “Super Dicks.” Ziaian steered the production and writing of the project—his first film—and even made an acting appearance.
Building from the success of “Super Dicks” he began production of his second film, “How to Kill Your Boss.”
Ziaian provides an impressive example that we can embrace our many talents in a variety of ways to pursue our dreams.
Bardya Ziaian shares how he brings his intelligence, focus and follow-through from the boardroom to the film set:
Q: So, you’re a tech and financial expert… when did you start having an interest in film?
Bardya Ziaian: I’ve always wanted to make movies, for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a storyteller and have enjoyed finding new and creative ways to tell them. My first film just so happens to be a comedy with a few dark cultural undertones, a really unique, silly way of telling a compelling story in a captivating way.
Q: Would you say you’re able to utilize your background experience in Fintech and financial systems in your filmmaking career?
Bardya Ziaian: It’s an interesting question, I think everyone is able to draw on past experiences to help them in the present – even if you’re trying a new hobby or job that doesn’t seem to match that experience. I’ve been in many leadership roles that have helped me to understand how to manage the direction of a project and the people involved, so that lends itself well to my directing skills.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Super Dicks and any challenges you faced during production?
Bardya Ziaian: Super Dicks is a comedy with heavy, cultural undertones designed to tell a compelling, hilarious story that relies a lot on cleverness and wit, while still being thought-provoking. I started the project amidst the pandemic, a time of global stress and isolation. Levity becomes incredibly important during times of crisis. Laughter really does prove to be medicine. I chose to create something that would allow the audience to just laugh and lose themselves in the story. Being able to disconnect like that can be essential to mental and physical health when challenges become increasingly apparent.
As for production, doing everything in the middle of the pandemic obviously had its challenges. Luckily we had a great cast who worked hard and overcame obstacles together to make the film happen. In fact, the film served as a means to create jobs for incredibly talented theater artists who weren’t able to do their regular performances because of pandemic restrictions. We obviously took every precaution and the team masterfully navigated both challenging and rapidly changing circumstances.
Q: Were you concerned about entering a new business venture at such a critical time?
Bardya Ziaian: Of course I was, but I choose to not live life in fear of failure. “Analysis paralysis” is a real thing and it’s something I fight against the same as everyone else. I try to be a man of action. Where other people saw a mountain of obstacles, I saw hope and opportunity despite the obstacles. Leadership is seeing the full scope of the situation: the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly and making an educated decision at the right time.
Q: You’re the executive producer of another film in pre-production, “How to Kill Your Boss.” Can you tell us anything about it?
Bardya Ziaian: I like to keep forward momentum going. While the first film is about to be released, I am already working on the second, using the lessons and skills I learned while creating the first film.
We build upon experience and become better and better. That applies to business, film and life in general.
That being said, I’m not ready to share too many details yet, but it’s another comedy and I’m working with amazing writers such as Damian lee and Zion Forrest Lee. To collaborate and create with such incredible people is a dream come true.
This leap was, in many respects, a leap of faith: faith in myself and in the talented people that have been sharing the journey. Success isn’t isolated. We bolster each other as we build something amazing.