Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., Tangled Bank Studios has a core team of producers and business professionals who are dedicated to the highest-quality filmmaking. Feel free to contact us or use our online proposal submission form if you have an idea for a film.
A nationally recognized expert in science education, Dennis Liu has directed the production of educational media at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1997. His team of scientists, education specialists, and graphic designers work with research scientists, animators, educators, and filmmakers to produce an array of educational products. Their work includes lectures, short films, animations, virtual labs, and a variety of supplementary materials for use in science classrooms, all of which are distributed free to educators in multiple formats.
His team also produces short classroom films and supporting materials based on Tangled Bank productions.
HHMI’s short films have been widely adopted by teachers and have received numerous awards, including Best Short Feature from the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards and a Labby Media Award from The Scientist magazine.
Liu’s group also produces the award-winning BioInteractive website, where over two million visitors stream videos, view animations, perform “virtual labs," and obtain lesson plans and activity guides. The group’s virtual labs won the prestigious International Pirelli Top Prize for the Diffusion of Scientific Culture and Thinking. The group has developed an extensive network of teachers who produce, review, and advise on the development of curricular materials. His team has also been producing the HHMI Holiday Lectures on Science series since 1997. Each series features research scientists giving highly engaging presentations focused on a specific topic. The lectures are aimed at advanced high school and introductory college students.
Prior to joining HHMI, Liu conducted research in neuroscience and genetics, earning a PhD in biology from the University of Oregon and completing postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington, where he later assumed a faculty position in the Department of Genetics. Liu has taught courses in neurobiology, genetics, and comparative physiology. He has a passion for explaining science to all audiences, has been an advisor on numerous museum exhibits, and writes a regular feature for the journal Life Sciences Education.
Lori Beane brings more than 15 years of experience to her role as director of operations. Prior to joining Tangled Bank Studios, Beane served as an executive in the Production Management Department of media powerhouse Discovery Communications – most recently as Director, Collective Nets. In this capacity she supervised more than 1,500 production hours for five of Discovery's networks: Investigation Discovery, Military and History, Destination Discovery, Velocity, and Discovery Fit & Health. During her nine years at Discovery, Beane negotiated deals with vendors; managed production budgets, schedules, and deliverables; and ensured that production and contractual obligations were met.
Earlier in her career, Beane managed the day-to-day production and business operations of Lone Wolf Documentary Group, a mid-sized production company based in Maine. There she also helped develop film projects such as the National Geographic Special Lost at Sea. Beane leads the business affairs, budgetary, and partnership arms of Tangled Bank Studios.
Wilma Davis brings over 10 years of feature film development and production experience working with A-list Hollywood filmmakers to her role as Associate Producer of HHMI’s dramatic film unit. She also serves as Executive Coordinator on all HHMI Tangled Bank Studios documentary projects.
In her earlier career, Davis worked as a broadcast business manager in Manhattan advertising agencies. She holds an MS in Film from Boston University and a BS in Communications from Emerson College.
David Elisco has been writing and producing award-winning science and natural history documentaries for more than 20 years. He has worked for and with Sea Studios Foundation, National Geographic Television and Film, Discovery Channel, and PBS, among others. Elisco has produced a number of critically acclaimed and award-winning films, including National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth, which aired on PBS and was hosted by Academy-Award nominee Edward Norton; The Shape of Life, an eight-hour series for PBS; Oceans in Glass, for WNET's Nature; and Web of Life, a two-hour, Emmy-nominated special that aired on PBS.
Most recently, Elisco produced, directed, and wrote several films for National Geographic Television and Film, including Sex, Lies & Gender, which investigates new science surrounding human sexuality; Countdown to Catastrophe, a two-hour special which examines impending disasters posed by tsunamis and earthquakes; and Virus Hunters, which probes a provocative new theory that viruses are the major driver in the creation of complex life on Earth.
Elisco's honors include Best Series at Wildscreen Festival; Best Children's Program at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Festival; first place in The Environmental Media Awards; and an Emmy nomination. As director of development for Tangled Bank Studios, he is responsible for the evaluation of proposals from producers around the world and the development of selected projects, from concept through production and distribution.
An accomplished education specialist with a PhD in cellular and molecular biology, Laura Helft works with Tangled Bank Studio’s scientific advisors and editorial teams to ensure high standards of accuracy and fidelity to the scientific process.
Prior to joining Tangled Bank Studios, Helft conducted research on plants and the bacteria that can make them sick at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her time there, she was a leader in a number of initiatives to engage the public in science, including science festivals, after-school science clubs, middle-school and high-school classroom teaching, and the national Science Olympiad. In addition to coordinating the efforts of Tangled Bank Studios' scientific advisors, Helft also researches, fact-checks, and annotates projects as they develop. To extend the reach of Tangled Bank Studios films into K-12 classrooms, Helft liaises with HHMI's Educational Resources Group to develop short films, classroom activities, and interactive tools for educators.
John Rubin is a Peabody-winning and multiple Emmy-winning filmmaker who turned to documentaries after completing his PhD in cognitive science at MIT. His films often explore the intersection of natural history and science.
Rubin next served as the first staff producer in the natural history unit at National Geographic Television. His first two films there earned Emmy nominations, including Savage Garden, for which Rubin wrote the script for its star Leslie Nielsen.
From 1997 to 2002, he headed Rubin Tarrant Productions, which delivered 14 hours of primetime documentary programming. During this time Rubin won the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers, for writing a National Geographic film about cloning.
Rubin worked as producer and head writer on the acclaimed PBS environmental series National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth, presented by Edward Norton.
In 2002, Rubin founded John Rubin Productions, Inc. There he made six films for the PBS series Nature and produced a number of films for National Geographic Explorer, including Climbing Redwood Giants, which earned the Forest Hero Award at the International Forest Film Festival (2010), and Lost Mummies of New Guinea, which won an Emmy for cinematography. For NOVA, Rubin’s Ape Genius – a film that explores the cognitive gap between humans and other apes – earned Rubin two Emmy nominations, the Buffon award at Pariscience, and a Peabody Award. Rubin won another Emmy in 2008 for research on The Living Weapon, a history of the U.S. biological weapons program, for the PBS series American Experience.
Rubin executive-produced the feature doc Raise the Roof, a selection of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, where it had its world premiere in 2015.
Joining HHMI’s Tangled Bank Studios in 2014 as executive producer, Rubin develops and oversees a slate of documentary productions.
Anne Tarrant brings 25 years of experience in cable television to Tangled Bank Studios. She is an Emmy-nominated producer who has worked at multiple cable networks and production companies, including a six-year stint running her own firm.
Tarrant has produced documentaries for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Wild, PBS and History Channel, among other networks. Shot around the world, her films vary in topic from natural history and science to engineering and history. Some have been honored with awards, including Emmys, Wildscreen Pandas, Jackson Hole Wildlife awards, and a GLADD.
Before joining Tangled Bank Studios as senior producer, Tarrant worked as National Geographic Television’s senior producer, Natural History Unit, where she was responsible for overseeing the landmark series Great Migrations and Untamed Americas as well as dozens of specials.
Earlier in her career, Anne served asdirector of story development for Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Discovery Times, and executive produced several specials and series.
Tarrant was partner and CEO of Rubin Tarrant Productions, where she developed, pitched and sold programs, and produced shows for outlets including Nature, TLC, PBS and National Geographic.
She holds an MBA from Georgetown University and a BA in Communications from the University of Dayton.
Heather Forbes brings over 17 years of experience to her role as Director of Production. An expert in building and managing large teams for marquee international productions, Heather has overseen hundreds of complex shoots in over 40 countries both hosted and non-hosted, across genres and for multiple networks including PBS, History, Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet, ID, Destination America and Smithsonian.
Prior to joining Tangled Bank, Heather was Executive in Charge of Production and Supervising Producer at JWM Productions, where she oversaw projects such as “The Path to Violence”, a quick turnaround special on school shootings and mental health for PBS that is now used by the FBI for training purposes. While at JWM Heather also ran many high profile series and pilots, from Treasure Quest, a 12hr Discovery series shot entirely at sea in the English Channel to History Hunter for History, for which she served as Field Producer in Namibia. Highly experienced in working with talent, she also managed four seasons of the adventure archaeology series Digging for the Truth, which was History’s most successful series to date which filmed in remote locations in over 30 countries among other projects.
Heather also spent two years as a Network-level Production Manager for Discovery Communications, where she managed a project load of 40+ series encompassing direct commissions, co-productions and development deals.
Earlier in her career, Heather worked in the Arts, serving as Coordinating Producer on a series of PBS music specials based at PBS member station WQED in Pittsburgh, where she served as Director of On-Air Fundraising and Production. While at WQED, she was also a producer of local arts and lifestyle programming and a live broadcast director.
An experienced production specialist and account manager, Lorri Garcia-Cottrell has more than 20 years of experience in nonfiction film. In her role as production specialist for Discovery Communications, Garcia-Cottrell managed and tracked production and financial components of commissions and co-productions, from green-light to delivery. In previous roles for Fusion Multicultural, ZGS Communications, and STF Productions, she oversaw a full range of production responsibilities and implemented strategic marketing plans. At ABC PrimeTime Live she served as senior production associate on multiple award-winning programs such as the Peabody- and Emmy-award-winning “Rush to Read” for ABC Primetime Live, among others.
In her role as production manager for Tangled Bank Studios, Garcia-Cottrell is part of the team that manages and oversees day-to-day operational issues. She also tracks project budgets and liases with internal and external producers on legal, insurance and clearance issues for programs that have aired on PBS, NOVA and the Smithsonian Channel. Additionally, Garcia-Cottrell manages and works with producers to deliver the short films produced for HHMI's educational resources group, BioInteractive.
For HHMI’s Department of Science Education
An internationally recognized scientist, award-winning author, and educator, Carroll leads HHMI’s Department of Science Education and oversees the largest portfolio of privately supported science education programs in the country. He was the architect of HHMI's new $60 million science filmmaking initiative and has served as executive producer and on-screen presenter of HHMI’s first slate of short films produced specifically for the classroom.
Carroll is a pioneer of, and widely considered to be the leading figure in, the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or –“evo-devo,” the study of the genes that control animal body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. In recognition of his scientific contributions, Carroll has received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences, been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, as well as named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A prominent science communicator in print, on radio, and on television, Carroll is the author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species, which was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award (non-fiction); The Making of the Fittest, which won the 2007 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award; and of Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times 2005 Science Book Prize. His first two books were the basis for, and Carroll was the scientific consulting producer of, a two-hour NOVA special that was first broadcast in December 2009 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Carroll also writes a regular feature, "Remarkable Creatures," for the New York Times' Science Times.
Prior to becoming Vice President at HHMI, Carroll was (and continues to be) Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For his educational contributions, he has receivedthe Stephen Jay Gould Prize for the advancement of the public understanding of evolution from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Award from the Society for Developmental Biology.