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How Zu Al-Kadiri Became a Link Between Worlds

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The Mayda Creative Co.’s co-founder and Executive Producer tells LBB’s Adam Bennett why “ideas are more powerful than tools”

Zu Al-Kadiri is no stranger to dichotomy. Born to Iraqi and Irish parents, he spent his childhood moving between the two distinct realities that were Iraq and England in the 70's and early 80's. As a result, the well-travelled producer is utterly familiar with the role of a creative bridge - the connective tissue between disparate ideas, places, and themes.

In the creative world, it’s an essential yet too often unsung skill. And in recent years it has helped build the foundation of Mayda, the creative studio with a uniquely open-ended approach to crossing the chasm between ideas and reality.

"If I have any kind of special talent, it’s been about being attuned to the differences - and the similarities - between human beings. It’s ultimately about empathy, or the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from. If you can get that right on a project, you get into this incredible space where the most talented people you can imagine are working entirely in simpatico."

Zu Al-Kadiri | Executive Producer | The Mayda Creative Co.

It’s a kind of creative atmosphere which feels incredibly natural, but takes a considerable amount of skill and expertise to create. And as Zu looks back on his formative years, it becomes increasingly obvious that his own production training began long before he ever formally entered the industry proper.

“My Grandmother in the UK would send VHS and Betamax tapes over to our family in Baghdad”, he recalls. “It would always be this eclectic pick-and-mix snapshot of Western culture. We’d have a recording of the Grand National horse race from three months prior that we could watch as if it was happening live, combined with classics of 50’s cinema like Oklahoma and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. These celluloid marvels from Hollywood’s ‘golden era’, along with what we'd see on Iraqi television  - lots of amazing Soviet cartoons, and films by Andrei Tarkovsky - gave us an education into just how diverse creative ideas can be”.

Read the rest of the feature on Little Black Book.