The pandemic has made the simple act of going to work difficult or impossible for most of us — and that includes the people who produce television shows and films.
The problem is undoubtedly more intense for frontline healthcare workers, food delivery workers, and others. At the same time, the helpful distraction of streaming movies and TV shows has become such an important and widespread coping mechanism during quarantine that the trials and tribulations faced by content producers shouldn’t be ignored.
The evidence is everywhere.
BBC’s new drama “Time” faced a serious production delay after a “Covid scare” that resulted in Sean Bean and other major cast members unable to work on set for 10 days. Julianne Moore recently discussed the abrupt end to filming her new show “Lisey’s Story” for Apple TV+. The Stephen King-based TV show was weeks away from completion when the pandemic struck, leaving the actors out of character for months.
“There was that fear for me, always when you step away from something, that you’re going to lose the thread of the character,” Moore said in the interview.
For aspiring filmmaker Bardya Ziaian, this is something he understands quite well.
Ziaian, an entrepreneur in the emerging fintech industry, began filming his first movie during the pandemic. The filmmaker co-wrote and produced the comedy “Super Dicks,” and had started shooting when Covid-19 changed the world.
Not only was Ziaian dealing with the learning curve of making his first film, he had to learn how to continue production with the quarantines, social distancing and medical dangers associated with in-person gatherings during a global pandemic.
“Most of the script-writing and research was completed before Covid, and we had the option to postpone when the pandemic started,” Ziaian said. “And I almost pulled the plug at that point, at least for a while. But then I thought: we really need comedy right now. Maybe more than ever, and I would like to make something that gives people some comfort when we all really need it.”
It wasn’t his only concern, either. Like any employer during the pandemic, Ziaian had to balance the safety of his crew with their need for paid work.
“My other thought was that many of these people were professionals who needed work, and wanted to work,” Ziaian said. “So I decided to move forward and keep filming during the pandemic.”
Many of the actors were talented theater artists that wouldn’t have had any other acting work if “Super Dicks” had shut down until quarantine had lifted.
Ziaian is based in Canada, which only very recently began lifting some of the stay-at-home orders that the country has strictly enforced since March 2020.
The film’s actors include Paul Braunstein, Michael Man, and Jennifer Hui, as well as Greg Bryk, known for his work in “Saw V,” and Keara Graves, best known for her recurring role as “Grace” in the Netflix series “Grand Army.”
For the rest of the production team, Ziaian relied on in-house team members from his two decades working in the fintech and financial services industries.
Ziaian was the President & CEO of Pario Technologies Corp., the founder of BBS Securities Inc. and Virtual Brokers, and now works as the CEO & President of SITTU Group Inc.
Bardya Ziaian decided early on that he could use the many talented people he already knew to help fill essential roles in the filmmaking process.
“I had no industry connections. I didn’t know the lingo or many of the basics, but I was okay with that because I wanted to learn and I love learning, especially for something I’ve always been personally passionate about like film,” Ziaian said. “The added pressure of figuring out how to continue producing during the pandemic felt like just another thing to learn.”
There’s not a release date for “Super Dicks” just yet, but Ziaian says it will be completed soon.