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"There’s no better way to tap into our scientific consciousness than through art, music, and film."

An interview with Christina Teenz Tan | EVIL PROFESSOR | VMA21 BEST SONG | August Edition | By Silvia Nittoli


As a Neurology resident at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles, Christina Tan has learned a lot through medical school and working in scientific labs. Through these experiences, her interest in concepts including synthetic DNA and artificial intelligence grew a lot and brought her shape a part of her original musical “Alan the Musical”.


The project is an ongoing production and it follows the story of a brilliant female scientist and her AI companion Alan, exploring the unique ways in which humans and AI will interact in the future.


Not only co-creator along with Dr. Susan Lim of Alan the Musical, but Christina is also the lyricist of the original song Evil Professor, which she wrote at the time she was a med student. Their dream was to use music, film, and theater to communicate and open up a global discussion on the sensitive, controversial topic of what is life and what is not life.


The goals were also to explore what the future would look like when humans have to co-exist with smart technology, to portray concepts like loneliness, to represent women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).


Her last short, Evil Professor, directed with Susan Lim and Samudra Kajal Saikia, is fully dedicated to the recurring character of the musical, Professor Alastor.

 

• So first of all Christina, congratulations on winning three important prizes at the Vegas Movie Awards™ in August. Where does the inspiration to create professor Alastor come from and how did you shape this character in your mind?

For the storyline of Alan the Musical, we wanted to create a villain who was both menacing yet comical. Professor Alastor is both a professor of medicine and a hunter of wildlife. He appears as a recurring character through the musical and tries to thwart Alan’s journey, thus our song “Evil Professor” was created!

• When creating a storyline, what’s the most important thing for you to convey to your audience?

Professor Alastor was created as an antagonist and thus we wanted the audience to feel his intimidating and menacing presence. As a hunter of wildlife, he relishes capturing animals and proudly frames his hunting medals in his office. In the classroom, he is an unforgiving and greatly despised professor who belittles his students.


Music therapy truly has a special way of bringing patients, their families, doctors, and other medical staff together!

• How has your animation filmmaking improved and changed from your first short to this one?

This film itself introduces this new character and adds some more depth to the storyline through our antagonist. The scene of the classroom with Alan hiding behind the desk shows how our characters interact and the intense dynamic between Alan and professor Alastor!

• You are the lyricist of the original song Evil Professor and co-creator of the bigger project Alan the Musical. Can you share with us more details about this?

From our original songs for Alan the Musical, inspiration has been drawn to create our animated films “Boy Scientist”, “Evil Professor” and the full animated feature, “Fantasy of Companionship between Human and Inanimate”.



• You are a Neurology resident at Cedars Sinai, LA. How does your scientific background influence your filmmaking?

Reflecting on my personal experience as a doctor now, I can say that music therapy truly has a special way of bringing patients, their families, doctors, and other medical staff together!


• Is there a connection between science and creativity in your opinion?

Yes, absolutely! I really do love the creative process of writing and film-making and believe that scientific pursuit and having an artistic, vivid imagination go hand in hand. There is no better way to tap into our scientific consciousness than through the medium of art, music, and film. As our project continues to develop, I am fortunate to have the pleasure of working alongside many artists and musicians, some of whom are doctors and scientists.


• When did your passion for animation begin and how?

During the pandemic, it was difficult to have a full stage reading with our actors and so we pivoted to another creative outlet- animation! However, I have always appreciated animated films and through this style, we are able to communicate otherwise complex scientific concepts. It challenges us to create fun and creative animations to portray scientific ideas including synthetic DNA and quantum teleportation.


• What are your projects for the future?


We are proud to announce that we have released our album Lim Fantasy for Piano and

Orchestra, which is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon music. Now we are working on a fantastic new project titled “Cosmic Rhapsody” which will explore the future of space travel and discuss the pressing issue of climate change.






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