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 that changed the world. ‘Animated Life: Seeing The Invisible’ won the 2015 Cine Golden Eagle award for Best Nonfiction Narrative Content/Short Animation.

Our first short, ‘WHALE FALL,’ was published on Radiolab in 2011, won “Best Short” at the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, and screened in festivals internationally. Our second paper video, ‘THE ANIMATED LIFE OF A.R. WALLACE,’ was published 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. ‘SEEING THE INVISIBLE,‘ about Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and the world of microbes, was published 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. ‘PANGEA,’ was published on The New York Times February, 2015. A two-part mini-series (FLU and SABER TOOTH) that we developed with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was published on Vox in 2015. ‘MARY LEAKEY‘ was published on the New York Times December 8, 2015, and our last in the Animated Life series for awhile, ‘COELACANTH‘ was published on the New York Times on December 22, 2015. We’re currently developing some new stuff, stay tuned.

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 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.



Sharon_283Co-Founder SHARON SHATTUCK is a documentary filmmaker and animator. Sharon’s first feature, From This Day Forward, about her transgender parent, premiered at the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, had its international premiere at Hot Docs, and is in select theaters in spring/summer 2016. She has animated several award-winning documentary films and shorts, including the Emmy-nominated feature, The City Dark, which premiered at SXSW and aired on PBS’s 2012 POV series, and The Search For General Tso, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and was distributed through IFC/Sundance Selects, and the short film Truck Farm. 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 degrees in environmental science and journalism.



RuthRuth Lichtman is a multimedia artist, producer, and director. She worked for three years at The American Repertory Theater’s second-stage, The Oberon, before moving to Brooklyn, where she currently resides. She was a 2014 artist-in-residence at The Sable Project. Ruth recently returned from directing a touring show with The Royal Frog Ballet, a theater collective which creates large-scale outdoor performances. Her design work can be seen in Sweet Fern’s “Mary Leakey” and the forthcoming “Coelacanth,” as well as in video work featured on The New York Times and The Atlantic.


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. Gerald Albertson - October 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    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. Brick Rucker - October 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    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. David - October 17, 2011 at 5:31 am

    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 - October 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

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


  5. Avi Wenger - November 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    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 - May 7, 2014 at 6:29 am

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

  7. admin - May 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    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. Kathleen Cahill - September 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    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. thomas hartman - September 18, 2014 at 1:48 am

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

  10. Jennifer Bainbridge - September 26, 2014 at 10:50 am

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

  11. Bob Spillman - February 20, 2015 at 9:03 am

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

  12. Bill - April 16, 2015 at 4:08 am

    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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.