Emiko Carlin sits down for a one-on-one with INFLUX Magazine

by Gordon Shelly

From composer and recording artist to “accidental director,” Emiko Carlin took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss filmmaking and the future. Emiko is an inspiration to creative artists and we were thrilled to do this interview.

INFLUX: How long have you been an indie filmmaker and what role(s) do you play in the production process?

EMIKO: I actually spent my whole life up until recently in the music industry as a songwriter, recording artist, and composer. Then a few years ago, I “accidentally” directed my first documentary! Now, it’s safe to say that my life’s course has expanded in ways I never imagined and I’m a full-time director, producer, and composer.

INFLUX: What are you currently working on that you can share with us?

EMIKO: My project load right now is mostly documentaries, but I do have a new fictional series that’s coming up as well! Presently, the documentaries in production are “Code Stroke,” a film chronicling the lives of young stroke survivors, “THAT Andrew Jones,” about the award-winning acclaimed loudspeaker designer, a docu-series called “They Walk Among Us,” which spotlights ordinary people living extraordinary lives, “Mothers,” a film about forced maternal deprivation by the judicial systems, and this new fiction series which is based on an internationally best selling book series about a North Korean inspector who uncovers the truth behind series of murders. In addition to that, we (my production company) have scripts that we’ve optioned so 2024 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting and busy year for us!

INFLUX: What are your hopes/goals/expectations for this project?

EMIKO: You know, this is actually a question I ask myself – and my partners – a lot. I used to ask myself this whenever I’d be gearing up to record an album or go on the road and the answer is much the same, although it’s evolved based on my journey. I want each film to resonate with people and inspire them to take some form of positive action for themselves or in service of others, no matter how big or small. For me, this isn’t just about telling a story or creating a compelling visual narrative, it’s about connecting with every single person who comes across these pieces.

INFLUX: What have been your greatest challenges as an indie filmmaker?

EMIKO: My greatest challenges so far have been, first, accepting that I actually AM a full-time filmmaker. Like I said, I’ve been in the music industry for decades and never planned on shifting so this was something completely unexpected. Taking ownership of a new part of one’s identity is quite an exciting but sometimes scary prospect. So that’s definitely one this. I still sometimes double take when people introduce me as a Director of Producer, but it’s really nice! I’d like to always carry this sense of excitement with me. Secondly, another challenge for me has been plotting out next steps. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “challenge” in the negative sense. I’ve learned from endeavors in the music industry so now I feel like I’m getting a chance to pave my path with a vast knowledge base that I didn’t have when I was first starting out in entertainment. So I weigh and consider decisions differently now

INFLUX: What has been your most significant accomplishment as a filmmaker?

EMIKO: Ahhh, well, this is a great question. If I was going to be a bit tongue-in-cheek about it, I’d say my most significant accomplishment as a filmmaker so far is that I became one, haha! Considering this all happened quite by accident, I think that counts. But in all seriousness, I think I have two. One is that one of my documentaries got picked up by Amazon Prime after living quite a robust life on the festival circuit for almost four years. I’m massively proud of that – and of our entire team for “T.H.E. Human Side.” The second one I would choose is my team. I am most proud of being part of the production team and partnerships I have and have helped to build. It’s all about vision, yes, but moreover, to keep those visions lasting, it’s all about connecting with good people – and being as good of a person as you can be to your team. And I love them.

INFLUX: Tell us about some of your past projects and where we can watch them if they’re available?

EMIKO: Definitely! “T.H.E. Human Side,” is the film I mentioned before. It’s a documentary about the depth of the effects that high fidelity listening has on people’s lives and human development. It chronicles the lives of three main audiophiles, each with a different experience, who are best friends, and also addresses aspects of music in education, physiology, and therapy. It’s currently on Amazon Prime so I’d love for everyone to watch it! And yes, it’s family friendly.

INFLUX: What goals to you have for yourself moving forward?

EMIKO: Oh gosh, well I have a few goals. Right now, the biggest goal I have is to wrap production on all the projects we currently have that are active and get them out into the world! Beyond that, I think really, to keep growing in my roles as director, producer, and composer. To accept and celebrate that life is bigger than I thought it would be. And to bring that message via film to as many audiences as I can.

INFLUX: What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out?

EMIKO: I’ve been asked this question a LOT lately and I’m always happy to answer it. Really, three pieces of advice:

  1. Your path is not a straight line so stop thinking it will be. The sooner you can let go of that notion, the sooner you’ll become open to everything that’s coming your way.
  2. The faster you pivot the better you fare. I was told for years to focus more on being a film and TV composer but I was so caught up in the whole recording and touring thing. Not that that’s bad. But there was a way to do both and I didn’t see it. Diversifying isn’t bad. It’s a really great thing.
  3. Be open because sometimes, the dream you thought you were meant to live is actually the vehicle to get you to the real place you’re supposed to be. And that is totally okay and amazing. It’s all about growth and celebrating new experiences. So be open to all of it, and for goodness sake, have a lot of fun along the way!