The Filmmakers


Marlboro Productions

Our films tell the stories of individuals of courage, vision, and persistence whose lives and actions lead to a greater understanding of our interconnectedness with each other and the natural world. They are teachers, farmers, activists, artists or musicians. They know that change takes time. They understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that the integrity of the parts will inevitably lead to that greater whole. It is this integrity, which is the basis of their power and of their drive. They inspire hope.

In The World in Claire’s Classroom a master teacher raises a whole generation of children into a life of the knowledge of tolerance and fairness, and through these children the whole community is moved to greater understanding. In Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai a world renowned environmental activist who understands the linkages between poverty, environmental degradation, human rights and democracy exposes and successfully challenges the role of colonialism and extractive economic development in undermining the tenets of social justice, in corroding an intact culture. In Home to Tibet a refugee’s return to his occupied homeland illustrates the inseparability of spirituality, family, culture and politics for the Tibetan people.

Alan Dater graduated from Goddard College with a B.A. in Philosophy. He began his film career in New York City working with the documentary filmmaker Bill Jersey, with Brian De Palma on his film Hi Mom, starring Robert De Niro, and with Bob Elfstrom on the now classic documentary on Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music. His freelance experience includes many productions that were broadcast on major U.S. networks including: Lifeline, an Emmy Award-winning medical documentary series for NBC; The Body Human, an Emmy Award-winning medical series for CBS; and National Geographic Specials. After moving to Vermont in the early 70s, while continuing his freelance work he started Marlboro Productions and began producing and directing his own documentaries.

Lisa Merton began making films with Alan Dater in 1989. Before this, she worked professionally as a weaver for ten years where her intent was to weave tapestry and use it as an art form for social change; but instead she ended up as a production weaver. It was not until she started making films in 1989, that she fulfilled her goal of weaving images that could inspire social change. She has a Masters in Teaching English and has taught English as a second language in multi-cultural classrooms. She brings her interest in education, cultural diversity, and social change, as well as her skill as a craftsman, to the filmmaking process. Since 1996 she has been a member of New Day Films, a longstanding documentary film collective.

Dater and Merton co-directed and co-produced Home to Tibet, a film about a Tibetan refugee’s return to his homeland, shown on many PBS stations, and at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam; Bridge of Fire, the story of the collaboration of a Japanese potter and a Vermont potter, winner of a Cine Golden Eagle, The Best Media Work at the Montréal Festival of Films on Art, and screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre; Wolf Kahn: Landscape Painter, a portrait of the well-known American painter, winner of a Cine Golden Eagle; The World in Claire’s Classroom, a documentary about an extraordinary Vermont public school teacher; and Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, the dramatic story of Wangari Maathai the founder of The Green Belt Movement of Kenya and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It has won numerous international awards including The Audience Award at Hot Docs and was broadcast on PBS/ Independent Lens in April 2009.


Team Members

Chris Hardee joined Dater and Merton as Associate Producer for BURNED. In the early 1980s, he co-founded a non-profit media organization where his first productions focused on nature and environmental topics for conservation organizations throughout New England. Public Radio projects followed including a documentary series on nature writers, a musical environmental parable for NPR Playhouse, and docu-shorts on natural resources. Through the 80s and 90s, Hardee wrote, directed and produced numerous video, film, interactive, and multimedia productions for museums, parks, and historic sites around the country. Noteworthy clients included the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, major science museums such as Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, the Truman Presidential Library, and a long list of cultural history museums. Hardee then founded High Cairn Films where he makes documentaries focused on the environment, education, and sustainability. In addition to his film credits, Hardee has also been a freelance writer, a marketing/PR professional, an educator, and an evaluator of environmental education programs.

Ty Gibbons is a composer, musician, and teacher living in Southern Vermont. He holds a BA from Harvard University, where he studied the integration of text and music. Ty has scored numerous feature films, feature-length documentaries, television programs, art films, and radio and media sites, including the Frontline episode Terror in Little Saigon(PBS), The Forest for the Trees (Sundance Channel, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival), The Barkley Marathons (Best Documentary Audience Award, Austin Film Festival), and the six-part multi-filmmaker documentary Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie. Ty built his own workspace, Red Heart Studios, in Marlboro, VT, where he has recorded with Beth Orton (Anti), Sam Amidon (Nonesuch), and developed or engineered music and audio for such organizations as The Criterion Collection, NPR, and the International Labour Organization. Ty has taught songwriting & music media workshops at numerous institutions, including Dartmouth College, Bennington College, and the University of Tennessee. He regularly teaches Songwriting and Music Production classes as an adjunct faculty member at the Putney School in Putney, VT.