Steven Spielberg released his first full-length film at the age of 25. Hitchcock made his debut at 26. Ishan Parikh, a film & media studies major and business minor at KU, just launched his third feature during his junior year.
The concept for “Ego,” which released on YouTube in November 2019, had been simmering in Ishan’s mind since high school. But the logistics of developing the movie, which features a complex story with interweaving plot points, from scratch – assembling a cast, securing funding, and a myriad of other production challenges – had left plans of tackling the project just out of reach.
Then years later as a student in the College, Ishan found resources and mentorship that soon opened doors to new opportunities for creative partnerships and helped bring “Ego” to life. Now, he has received a $950 Arts Research Grant from the The School of the Arts Student Advisory Board to green-light a new project titled “Rainbow Boulevard.”
Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?
I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and am from there. I decided to come to KU because it was close to home, and I had heard the film program here was great and provided a sizable experience for students.
Why did you choose your major and minor?
From a very early age I always loved films and their ability to entertain. I can’t remember the exact moment, but from very early on I decided that I wanted to be a movie director because I was fascinated by the job and all its responsibilities, and so from there on, I made films in high school with friends and did my best to develop my craft, and the journey has basically led me here.
As far as the business minor goes, it essentially came as a byproduct of choosing my major. I felt it complements being in the entertainment industry, which is a business in itself, and helps one understand the financial stuff better.
What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?
KU has an excellent standard for students being able to develop their projects. I think it’s quite a welcoming place for people who need the aid to not only get better at what they want to do, but also to meet others with the same interests. I’ve found the most beneficial thing is to meet others and group with one another to work on things that interest you, whether that be making a film, working on a project, or what have you.
Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?
I have found a lot of support in many of my professors here at KU, but chief among them would have to be Tamara Falicov, who is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Tamara was my professor for my Introduction to Film class my freshman year and she was not only a great teacher, but an incredibly productive and approachable professor. She immediately heard my pitch to make my film and was nothing but supportive and encouraging the whole way through the process. She gave me the freedom to pursue it how I wanted to and was a great resource and sounding board for me in the process. I couldn’t possibly run out of things to say about Dr. Falicov and how great she is.
Please tell us about your newly released film, Ego. Where did the idea of the film come from, and how did development and production come together? What was it like collaborating with the team to create the film?
Ego is a film I’ve had in my head for a while now. It takes the disparate stories of a failed private investigator, a married couple, and a successful internet blogger and connects them through the themes of self-pride and narcissism. It taps into large themes about human nature and basically acts as an allegory for the entire philosophy on egos.
This was a film I had the idea for in high school, but back then, circa 2017, it seemed impossible for me to ever make it. When I got to KU, I found so many resources, in terms of the theatre department and film students, that it suddenly seemed possible for me to pull this off on a low budget.
I spent a lot of time last fall prepping the film, figuring out the cast, crew, locations, and all the logistics of how we were going to go about this. We began shooting in February of 2019 and went straight until the end of April when we finished. Even though how fast we were moving in terms of filming, the process was incredibly rewarding in terms of working with actors, and bringing to life such a dense and complex story.
Lots of amazing friends within the film department helped out on the making of this film and they couldn’t have been more generous, lending their time and help making this happen. This is by far the most ambitious and hardest thing I’ve yet to do when it comes to filmmaking and the amount of help I was able to get is the only reason we were able to pull this off.
Do you have any tips for KU students who want to launch their own creative projects?
The only tip I can give is the one that is given many times, which is go out there and do it. There are probably so many others with similar goals as you, and I would say go out and find them. Collaborate with them. Make stuff. Put it out there. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any other learning experiences you’d like to share? If so, what was that like?
I am currently working with another professor at KU on a project that I am doing as an internship for the spring. We’re developing a documentary. I have yet to go abroad to study, but the plan is to do that in the fall of next year.
What would you tell your freshman self?
I would tell him to slow down, enjoy life in the moment and appreciate it for what it is, because as we all know, time flies.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
The plan is to move to Los Angeles after college and find a job working within the industry somehow, be it starting out as a production assistant, or working on a film crew. The goal is to hopefully be a working filmmaker someday.
What motivates you?
I would say I’m motivated by going out and pursuing what I want no matter the circumstance, or limitation. I think if you keep trying to reach your goals without giving up, eventually, you will succeed in one way or another.
Watch Ego (2019) in its entirety:
Be like Ishan. Bring your passion project to life. For more information, explore the Department of Film & Media Studies and the School of Business at the University of Kansas.