Interdisciplinary team to produce second historical film titled "The Bell Affair"

l-r - Michael Burton, William Thomas, and Kwakiutl Dreher.

Interdisciplinary team to produce second historical film titled "The Bell Affair"

09 Sep 2019    

Michael Burton, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design and his partners William Thomas, professor of history and Kwakiutl Dreher, associate professor of English and ethnic studies are making a new historical film.   

 With a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, they will produce “The Bell Affair: A Film Reframing American Slavery and Freedom.”  The one-hour film is set in 1830s Washington, D.C. at a pivotal moment in the national struggle over slavery.

 The media production grant is highly competitive with only twelve teams selected nationwide.  “We’re producing documentary film that breaks with traditions by using special effects, animation, and artistry that captures the spirit and feeling of the 1800’s,”  Burton said.

 The film is the second in a series made by the collaborative team who draw heavily on the historical research of Thomas’ team ,n the CDRH (, Dreher’s work as an actor, director, and writer, and Burton’s production experience in green screen film and animation.

 The team’s award-winning film, Anna, was produced as a proof of concept for the grant.  “We will be filming here in Nebraska with Western Meadowlark Productions LLC at the NET television studio using their large green screen studio.  However our acting talent will be drawn from around the country.”

 “As the nation prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH is proud to help lay the foundations for public engagement with America’s past by funding projects that safeguard cultural heritage and advance our understanding of the events, ideas, and people that have shaped our nation,” NEH chairman Jon Parrish Peede said in a press release.


Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design
College of Education and Human Sciences