We had the good fortune of connecting with Sahand Fardi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sahand, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Pursuing a dual career in medicine and film resulted from a unique experience happening when I was just 11 years old. Before this age, I dreamt of nothing more than becoming a professional soccer player. I worked hard from the first moment I touched a soccer ball to develop the skills and instincts needed to achieve my dream. Essentially, soccer was my life, and I loved nothing more than the exhilarating feeling of each game with my teammates. Shortly after turning 11, I received the flu vaccine as I did every year. This time, however, was unlike any other. Over the next few months, I saw my body deteriorate in ways beyond anyone’s imagination. Doctor after doctor, test after test, all yielding nothing. It had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even do the most basic personal activities, let alone play soccer. After six months, I was diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune side effect of the flu vaccine that caused my immune system to attack my nervous system. I was left paralyzed, severely atrophied, and helpless at just 11 years old. After years of physical therapy and self-discovery, I put myself back on my own two feet. I realized the values of teamwork, determination, and heart, which I loved from soccer, were all that I needed to, in a way, bring myself back to life. The perspective gained revealed my true passion for medicine to treat chronically ill kids and allow them to live the life of a kid. Additionally, combining GBS with taking film classes as a UCLA student helped me gain a greater appreciation for the impact that films have on the lives of viewers. Therefore, I decided to add to my career path and begin creating films that convey motivating messages to help viewers overcome their challenges. I am currently working on my first of many full-length feature films that will do just that.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am debuting as a filmmaker creating films that motivate viewers to overcome their challenges. In my opinion, a powerful film is one whose messages and lessons are applied to life outside of the theater. If I listed some of my all-time favorite movies, my mind would immediately think of those that influenced my emotions or strengthened me mentally. The issue, however, is that these films can sometimes be a bit too niched. For example, a film about a professional athlete’s journey back from a grueling injury may feature universal messages, but the level at which they impact a fellow athlete versus a non-athlete is very different. My mission is to give life to impactful films through stories and characters that showcase experiences familiar to all individuals. I know breaking into the film industry is no easy task, but I have full faith in the people I am surrounded by, and the stories we want to share with the world. I want every single one of my future viewers to know that what you watch will be more than a movie; it will be the lightbulb moment, the revival of an ignored feeling, or the boost you will need to move forward in life.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was in town, close to every morning should start with a sunrise walk along the Santa Monica beach. On cheat days, a deliciously fresh doughnut from none other than Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee should follow. This is hands down one of my favorite ways to start a day because you not only experience one of the natural gems of LA, but you also try what I consider the best, most exotic doughnuts ever made. Some of my favorite mid-day activities include strolling through the beautiful Century City Mall, picnicking right outside of The Griffith Observatory, or heck even cruising over to Universal Studios to catch a ride or two. If that sounds like too much, simply reading your favorite book at a Melrose Cafe is more relaxing, but equally as fun. As the day comes to an end, nothing beats the breathtaking nightly sunset over the Pacific. In my eyes, this must be experienced at least once for every visitor that comes to town. For dinner, some of the world’s best spots are just a car ride away from anywhere in LA. Feeling like grabbing unique drinks and top-quality food alongside celebrities? Catch LA has you covered. Want something more low-key and by the water? Blue Plate Taco will serve up some of the best tacos in West LA. Can’t decide on a restaurant on the first Friday of the month? Head over to Abbott Kinney to experience First Fridays, a night market filled with some of the best food trucks from all over the country. These are some of my favorite things to do while in the city! I know a lot of it involves food, but with the unbelievable menus LA has, can you blame me? I love that these activities barely scrape the surface of what this amazing city has to offer. I can’t wait to explore more in the future!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
What’s unique about my journey is its successes have been because of more than one friend or family member. My parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins went above and beyond to be there with me for every test or treatment. From working long hours to cover my medical expenses to sleeping on uncomfortable hospital chairs, they never failed to remind me that I was never fighting alone. My brother, although younger, took on the role of the older spirit. He constantly pushed me to be the best I can be and offered a helping hand when I needed it the most. Ultimately, my family taught and continue to teach me that there is no specific way to love or be loved, as long as you feel the love. My friends maintained the smile on my face and pushed me to be the best version of myself. These individuals included the family friends I grew up with, the people I met in school, and the physical therapists that treated me. Similar to my family, my friends stood between me and the dark corner I faced. They did everything in their power to not only prevent me from hitting rock bottom, but also push me far from it. If it wasn’t for my friends, I would’ve never gained the appreciation for life that I needed to discover my passions and overcome Guillain Barré.

Instagram: @sahandfardi17

Image Credits
Alexei Klimov

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