Salt Marsh Productions combines the expertise of artists and filmmakers with the scholarship of historians and writers to produce unique and compelling historical dramatic documentaries.
Michael Burton is a digital artist, film director, and animation producer. Burton combines art, film, and animation to create historically based stories. He has produced several hybrid-animation shorts including Gold Slipper by Willa Cather (2020), Anna (2018), and Freedom Stories (2022). Burton produced and animated the feature film The Bell Affair (2022). Burton's digital artwork has been featured across the country and in solo exhibitions at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Denver Art Museum, RISD Art Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach, Florida, and the Sheldon Art Museum. Burton's recent solo exhibition of digital art and NFTs titled Dance Floor of the Sky was hosted at Kiechel Fine Art and featured a multi-channel projection room with a gallery of printed digital paintings. Burton has completed animations for a PBS documentary titled On a Knife's Edge, which premiered on America ReFramed in 2017. His projects were funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, Maryland Humanities, ITVS, NET television, The Willa Cather Foundation, and Vision Maker Media. Burton and the Animating History Team have screened their films at the New Media Film Festival (Best Animation), Atlantic Selects, Utopia, Hampton, BronzeLens, HipHop, and Virginia Film Festivals. From 2016-2019, Burton served as Director of the Cube Art Project, a biannual juried international digital art competition hosted by the City of Lincoln (Nebraska). He is currently the director of the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery and an Assistant Professor of Foundation Art and Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2007 and B.F.A. from Green Mountain College in 2000.
Kwakiutl L. Dreher is a screenwriter, actor, director, playwright, and author. A native of South Carolina, she writes about African American literature, film, visual, and popular culture. She is the author of Dancing on the White Page: Black Women Entertainers Writing Autobiography (SUNY Press) and numerous articles and essays. Dreher wrote and acted in Anna (2018). She has also played Mamie Till in Anne & Emmett, Mrs. Harriet Gottlieb in Dead Man's Cellphone, and Louise in the film The Eyes of Isabelle. Her one-woman show, In A Smoke-Filled Room, Color Matters, was a playlab selection at the Great Plains Theater Festival in 2013 after its theatrical debut at The Haymarket Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska. A storyteller at heart, she has written and recorded stories for public radio. Dreher is currently at work on a murder mystery set in her hometown, Columbia, South Carolina. She is an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Nebraska.
William G. Thomas III is an award-winning historian, author, and film producer. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, he writes about American history, law, slavery, and the Civil War. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Lincoln Prize Finalist. His recent book, A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation's Founding to the Civil War (Yale University Press, 2020), won the 2021 Mark Lynton Prize. A digital media historian, Thomas was co-editor of the acclaimed digital project, The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War. He has published essays in the American Historical Review, Civil War History, Southern Spaces, Lapham's Quarterly, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Thomas has written and produced documentary films since 1999. He co-wrote with George H. Gilliam "The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Virginia's History Since the Civil War," a series of four documentary films that aired from 1999-2004 on PBS stations in Virginia (WCVE). The hour-long episode "Massive Resistance" in 2000 was an Emmy nominated film for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Television National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He co-produced Rising Up: a documentary on the Civil Rights era (2008) with Bill Reifenberger for WCVE Richmond, an hour-long documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia. Rising Up aired in February 2008 on WCVE and over 20 stations through the National Education Television PBS affiliates.
Kaci Nash is a historian and researcher contributing to Animating History projects. Her research on the Bell family was the basis for The Bell Affair (2022), and she also develops and maintains the project’s website. Nash earned her M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012.
Elijah Watson is the co-owner of our production partner, Western Meadowlark LLC, working as the line producer and editor on all Animating History projects. He coordinates casting, production, and post-production. Elijah is also a VFX coordinator at Netflix in Los Angeles and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Benjamin Hartzell is the co-owner of Western Meadowlark LLC, working as the Director of Photography. Hartzell is a cinematographer for Amazon and other productions working in Brooklyn, New York.
Jordan Scribner is the animation lead for Animating History. He received an M.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017 and has taught various digital arts courses in Nebraska at Metro Community College. Scribner is an alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was an undergraduate Regents Fellow.
Heather Striebel is the lead costume designer for Animating History. She received a Ph.D. in Apparel Design in 2022 and an M.F.A. in Costume Design in 2019. Striebel is the Costume Director of the Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria, Arizona.
Anna Kuhlman is a costume designer for Animating History. She received her M.A. in Material Culture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2022, and she is a 2019 graduate of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design. Kuhlman now serves as the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery Manager.
Tina Shetabi is a current graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Apparel Design with a focus in historical and digitally created garments. Tina received her B.F.A. from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2022. Shetabi has expertise in CLo3D apparel design software and is creating historic costuming for avatars use in Animating History projects.
Sirrena Infinite Holmes received a B.F.A. in medical illustration from the Cleveland Institute of Art and has since worked as a freelance 3D modeler and bone rigger. Holmes does 3D modeling and rotoscoping for Animating History.
Yahya Shema will receive his B.S. in Integrated Science from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Shema works as a 3D motion capture artist for Animating History Projects.
Ally Hall will receive her B.F.A. in Emerging Media from the Johnny Carson Center for New and Emerging Media in 2023. She currently works at Lola VXF and has worked on Animating History projects as a 3D avatar artist and compositor.
Jo Sayer is a current University of Nebraska-Lincoln history student working on a UCARE project sponsored by PepsiCo. Her focus is on storyboard and animatic development