After moving to Vermont in the late '60s, Dater continued his free-lance career and began producing independent productions. Most of these films document aspects of the community of southern Vermont. Often they focus on the arts. They include: THE STUFF OF DREAMS, the story of a community theater group's original production of Shakespeare's The Tempest; and BLANCHE, a portrait of the Bach choral conductor, Blanche Honegger Moyse.
In 1989 Dater began collaborating on productions with Lisa Merton. A former designer/weaver and ESL teacher, Merton brought her interest in education and cultural diversity as well as her skill as a craftsman to the filmmaking process. Together Merton and Dater have collaborated on: HOME TO TIBET, a film about a Tibetan refugee's return to his homeland, shown on many PBS stations, at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam and the Vermont International Film Festival; BRIDGE OF FIRE, the story of the collaboration of two potters, one a Japanese the other a fellow Vermonter, winner of a Ciné Golden Eagle and Best Media Work at the Montreal Festival of Films on Art, also screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre; MICHELLE HOLZAPFEL: WOODTURNER AND CARVER, a production on the Marlboro, Vermont woodturner and sculptor; WOLF KAHN: LANDSCAPE PAINTER, a portrait of the well-known American landscape painter, winner of a Ciné Golden Eagle; and THE WORLD IN CLAIRE'S CLASSROOM, about the veteran Vermont teacher Claire Oglesby and her first and second grade.
Since late 2003, Dater and Merton have been working on a film about the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and its founder, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Muta Maathai. It is scheduled to be released in spring 2007.