JULY 2nd 2016
Passion & Integrity
Commerce & Creativity
Equality Not Hierarchy

Shamaine Othman - Malaysia
The Best Short Film Award - Love Story
Shamaine Othman
Director - Writer - Comedienne
Shamaine Othman is the recipient of TheWIFTS Best Short Film Award 2016. Love Story, written and directed by Sharmaine, is a story with heart and heaps of comedy, a look at the life of a 29 year old, who goes on series of disastrous dates in the quest to find a boyfriend. The appeal and simple plot of the script resonates a story lamented by 29 year olds worldwide, no matter race, colour or religion – the language is the same – when looking to find love.

Growing up as the youngest daughter of Malaysia's top sitcom producer, Shamaine started acting in his sitcoms since the age of 7. Upon completing her high school education, she decided to pursue performing arts and was sent packing on a plane to Melbourne, Australia.

In 2006, she graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree from Monash University. While working as an administrator with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Shamaine would act in semi-professional theatre productions during her free time.

In 2009, she chanced upon an audition for an improv comedy troupe, thus thrusting herself into comedy. Along with a group of friends, she also started their own sketch comedy group and after much coercing from them too, she tried stand-up comedy in 2011. She now performs regularly at Kuala Lumpur's comedy clubs.

In 2012, she was selected to be one of the directors of an experimental film project, Cuak, which had five different directors directing different segments of the film. The success of Cuak lead Shamaine to direct Love Story for Ikal Mayang, an all-female directing initiative started by local non-profit organisation, Women:Girls.

Shamaine is currently a full time writer (TV and stage) and comedian, working in both Malaysia and Singapore.

Proving that the apple does not fall too far from the tree Shamaine Othman, daughter of the prolific Othman Hafsham, is paving a path for herself in Malaysia's entertainment industry. An up and coming stand-up comedienne, Shamaine's talents extend well beyond just being behind a microphone. The multi-talented Shamaine has dipped her toes in stand-up comedy, theatre, television and film, and has done most of it in a short span of time.

In the last two years she has served as a writer on the hilarious sketch comedy show, The Disko Baldi Show, the television adaptation of the extremely successful Projek Disko Baldi stage show; she made her debut as a director in the film Cuak, on which she also served as a writer; and she's part of the improvisation collective AI:IA, which performs once a month at the Crackhouse Comedy Club.

Asked about her rise in such a short span of time and what she would attribute it to, Shamaine said: "My father taught me to be committed and also, to have class in anything that you do.

When it comes to being creative, his achievements have taught me to be brave and also create art that has heart."

She takes some time off to chat with us:

What has been the most difficult part about being a full-time writer and performer?

Definitely the uncertainty. You never know when your next paid gig is coming your way and with every job, you have to give your best. You're only as good as your last work. Also, discipline. As a writer, I really find it a difficult task to allocate blocks of time to work on different writing projects. Setting it is tough, following it is another problem.

Who are three local talents you'd love to work with?

I would love to work with Jo Kukathas, Yuna and my brother, Shamyl Othman.

Projek Disko Baldi has been pretty quiet since its last show – PDB Sings. What's next for PDB?

We are planning a feature show for this year. Not a music showcase but back to our original full length show with sketches and songs. We are also planning on releasing our first single. The single and music video is in production at the moment. We also plan to roll out some web videos but all this is at its planning stage for now since our members are very, very busy people.

Given the great reviews your segment received in Cuak, will we be seeing you take the director's seat again anytime soon?

Again, yes. Anytime soon, most probably no. It's funny but I am more scared to direct now than I was before directing Cuak. I would like to direct maybe another short film, but I guess I have to write it and save up for it. Unless, someone wants to produce it for me. (This is me asking anyone who would like to produce my short film.)

Out of all the ones you were involved in, which project has been your favourite so far?

The Disko Baldi Show. It's my favourite because we came a long way. From chats at the mamak talking about starting a sketch comedy group, to producing our first stage show with a budget of RM500 to having our own show on TV. Even though we didn't get a second season, I still see it as a great accomplishment for Projek Disko Baldi.

Do you prefer performing or writing and why?

This is really a tough one. I'm going to give a wanky answer, lol. Of late I find I am writing the pieces that I am performing, be it stand-up comedy, sketches or my short films (like Love Story for Ikal Mayang). So, I guess for me, I see writing and performing as a whole.

Which is more difficult, theatre or television? Nothing is easy. Theatre and television both has its challenges. Both would be better industries if there was more money and perhaps more passionate practitioners.

You made your directorial debut in Cuak; tell us about your experience with that.

I was so lucky. Michael Chen, the producer called me one day and asked if I wanted to be a part of the project. I thought as an actor but turns out he wanted me to come on board as the 5th director. I also had to write my own short film. Michael and the other directors were very co-operative seeing as this was my first directorial effort. This is definitely up there as one of my fav projects as I was given a lot of freedom with my script. Any creative person's dream.

Which recent play would you have loved to been in and why?

I really would love to be casted in one of Namron's Teater Kompilasi series. He has written such great plays and I think as an actor it would be a dream to be directed by him. His play Proses, which I caught many, many, many years ago is one of my favourite plays. So, hopefully he re-stages that! I missed Raj and the End of Tragedy but I'm pretty sure if I watched it, I'd wanna be in it.

Your dad is synonymous with directing – Mekanik, 2+1 and of course, Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu. What have you learned from your father?

He has taught me to be committed and also, to have class in anything that you do. When it comes to being creative, his achievements have taught me to be brave and also create art that has heart.


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