about us

SWEET FERN PRODUCTIONS LLC is the multimedia production company of filmmakers and science journalists Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck. We are the creators of the New York Times Op-Docs series ‘Animated Life,’ which uses paper puppets and stringent journalism to highlight moments of scientific discovery throughout history.

Our short ‘WHALE FALL’ premiered on Radiolab in 2011, won “Best Short” at the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, and screened in festivals internationally. We premiered our second paper video, ‘THE ANIMATED LIFE OF A.R. WALLACE,’ on the New York Times in November, 2013, and it was an Official Selection of the 2014 Camden International Film Festival and the 2015 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. ‘ANIMATED LIFE: SEEING THE INVISIBLE,’ about Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and the world of microbes, premiered on The New York Times in September, 2014, and was an Official Selection of the 2015 Atlanta Film Festival and the 2015 Paris Science Film Festival. ‘ANIMATED LIFE: PANGAEA,’ premiered on The New York Times February 17, 2015. A two-part mini-series that we developed with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation premiered on vox.com in June and July of 2015.

We’re based in Brooklyn, New York.

(Sweet Fern, Comptonia peregrina, is a plant that grows near the Northern shores of Lake Michigan, where Sharon grew up.)


Co-Founder FLORA LICHTMAN is a science journalist and host of the new climate change podcast ‘The Adaptors.’  Her work has appeared on NPR, and in The New York Times, Popular Science and The Atlantic. Previously, Flora was the multimedia editor at National Public Radio’s Science Friday, where she made science videos for the web and chatted about them on the radio.  She’s also the co-author of Annoying: The Science Of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011) and likes looking at sea life. Drop Flora a note at Flora.Lichtman@gmail.com.

Photo by Michael Granacki

Co-Founder SHARON SHATTUCK is a documentary filmmaker and animator. Her first feature, From This Day Forward, a story about growing up with a transgender parent, premiered at the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Festival and is currently screening in festivals internationally. She has worked on several award-winning documentary films and shorts, including the Emmy-nominated feature, The City Dark, which aired on PBS’s POV series in 2012, and The Search For General Tso, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2014.  Her short video and animation work has appeared in the New York Times, PBS, Slate, ProPublica, and Radiolab. She’s a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post and The Advocate, and has an B.S. degree in environmental science and an M.A. in journalism.


Emma Wiseman, Sweet Fern’s lead puppeteer and production assistant, is a multidisciplinary performer and theater-maker originally from Weston, CT and now based in Brooklyn.  Over the last few years she has been acting, singing, dancing, and puppeteering at Dixon Place, the Detroit Institute of Art, Triskelion Arts, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Bushwick Starr, Incubator Arts Project, Theatre for the New City, on film, in a field in Cold Spring, NY, and many other exciting venues.  Emma has been fascinated by science and medicine from an early age and explores these subjects through live performance.  She is currently a member of the dance-music troupe THE SPACE WE MAKE, and was a 2014 Resident Artist with Mabou Mines.



12 comments to “about us”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.
  1. WOW. I really loved the whale video. The sidebar lists the equipment and software that you use. I’d love to know how you blend it all together to create the final product. do you have a video highlighting your tips and techniques?

  2. Saw your videos on vimeo, I loved them, I caught the whale fall one and then just went through the rest.
    Thanks for your time.

  3. I MUST applaud you for Whale Fall, a more elegant and effective piece of animation (&heartfelt handmade animation at that!) I’ve not seen all year so far. My 5 year old God Daughter and 2 year old nephew as well as my friend’s 5 and 3 year olds are simply smitten, to say nothing of the grown ups I’ve shared it with… Brava! :)

  4. George Matsumoto says: -#1

    like the whale fall video – but you forgot the whale worms :-)


  5. i love your work and your laugh flora lichtman, and i dearly miss your presence on Science Friday. i hope you are well.

    much good fortune, avi

  6. John Berry says: -#1

    When is your Project Dad film going to be released? Thank you

  7. PROJECT DAD is now released! The new title is FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, and we’re touring in film festivals through 2015. Expect us on iTunes and Netflix in 2016.

  8. Your video on Antonie van Leeuwenhoek brought tears to my eyes… I don’t know why exactly. Something about the joy of it. Thank you.

  9. love the short on ‘seeing the invisible’
    would love to expand on that in an exhibit

  10. Your work is so lovely. I just watched “Seeing the Invisible” in the NY Times. Magical.

  11. I just watched Animated Life: Pangea. Very nice work that left both knowledge and a smile. Thanks.

  12. I saw “From this day forward” at the Sarasota Film Festival. It was great. It had a sweet underlying theme of the strength of a family. The audience will love this at “Hot Docs” in Toronto. Congratulations.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.