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An Interview with Emir Kumova

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your education and your interest in cinema.

My name is Emir Kumova. I’m 28. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I moved to California at the age of 18 to attend Pepperdine University and graduated in 2015 with a film degree. My interest in filmmaking started when my mother gave me a video camera when I was nine. Being able to capture moving images fascinated me. Shortly after, when I discovered the power of music behind these moving images, I started making my own very amateur videos (1-2min) with stories casting friends and family. This hobby turned into a love for cinema when my parents were taking me to movies very often when I was little.

Director Emir Kumova

Seeing and reading what works aroused your interest in this medium, and as a result, what works do you owe your education in cinema to?

What inspired me most is, powerful music and soundtracks behind powerful acting and cinematic shots. Not a single movie or filmmakers necessarily. However, some of the filmmakers and their works I really like are, Scorsese, Nolan, Darabont, Guy Ritchie, Jordan Peele and many others.

Tell us about your first project. What difficulties did you have in the beginning?

My first project after university was a short film called Christmas Tree. Biggest struggle was not having enough experience and not knowing enough people to put a film production together. Therefore, I had to wear all the hats. We shot the movie three people in the crew. One sound person, one camera and light person, and my-self being the director and every other job you can think of making a film, plus the actors. It was a learning experience.

Is it more important to have a budget, or to have the mind to find salvation solutions in critical situations?

Ofcourse budget helps. But not always in a positive way. Budget can make you complacent and make you not dig into your creativity. If you are serious about filmmaking, you have to have the mind that can find solutions in critical situations. Because budget, most likely, won’t be there to save you. (Unless it’s a significant technical issue on equipment where you might have to have a budget to solve the problem). Critical situations are inevitable in a film production. It’s not a question of if, but how you will handle it when it happens.

Do you think film festivals help filmmakers?

All festivals are different with their themes, audiences and goals. One thing they have in common though is that, they definitely are a platform to showcase your work to a broader audience. But more than that, they are an opportunity to network and meet other people in the industry who you might end up wanting to work with in the future. And ofcourse they could be a motivation factor for the filmmakers.

6. Tell us about film production companies. Can one, as an inquisitive filmmaker, count on production companies?

How much of the future of cinema do you think is in the hands of powerful companies like Netflix?

The famous question. People define cinema differently. In the way I define it, where cinema is an experience on the big screen, I really hope that culture never goes away. Companies like Netflix do have positive impacts on the film industry. However, I hope that they do not completely rule the industry in the future, and rather stay as a production and a distribution company.

Is cinema, as some say, dead, and should we expect television and Internet broadcasts to be gaining more and more power?

Even though there are attempts, new technologies and innovations that make the traditional cinema seem like it’s staying in the shadows, it is definitely not dead. There are many different angles to answer this question but the the angle I want to answer from is this: Cinema is a culture.

You can also stream, and live too; sports games, football matches on tv or internet, but people will never stop going to the stadiums to be in that culture and experience the energy. Same with cinema.

What skills do you think a filmmaker needs to have? Is it necessary for the filmmaker to personally understand many specialized subfields?

Many. And not just skills, but a filmmaker needs to have a certain type of personality too in my opinion.

A filmmaker needs to be able to stay calm under pressure and think clearly. This question takes me back to the earlier question. In a film production, there will always be many things happening outside of our control that try to sabotage the project. Could be logistical, technical, weather, act of god and etc. As a filmmaker, you have to be ready to overcome obstacles and know that some things will go wrong, and not according to the plan. You have to be ready and creative for these unexpected situations.

I think a filmmaker needs to have a great sense of empathy. It will be needed when telling stories and creating characters.

When the filmmaker does understand many specialized subfields, it does help a lot, and make the process so much easier of course. Mainly it helps the communication easier with the filmmaker and others (cast/crew, etc.) hence the vision. However, I agree with what Tarantino said once: You don’t have to know the lenses, you don’t have to know about the 180 rule, if you are truly passionate about filmmaking, you can’t help but to make a good movie.

Tell us about your next project, please.

My next project is another short. I’m planning it as my last short film before taking a step into feature films.

It is titled War of Colors. It follows the story of a Black woman with white skin due to Albinism, in America.

Currently it is in post-production phase. Will be released in 2022. (


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