Tim Ouillette, Communication Studies Associate Teaching Professor, filmmaker, and founder of Munjoy Hill Media, recently worked on a film documenting the life of the infamous Red Sox player, Ted Williams. The documentary, entitled “Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,” originally aired as part of PBS’ Emmy Award Winning American Masters series, but is now available for streaming after being picked up by Netflix.
About three and a half years ago, Ouillette was working at his Maine-based media services company, Munjoy Hill Media, when he was contacted by Nick Davis Productions, a production company that was beginning to film a baseball documentary. They had found Ouillette and his company via Google and recruited him to do cinematography, sound, and motion graphics for the film. He quickly put together a team and got to work, assisting them with shoots they were doing in Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Professor Ouillette admitted that he had never really been much of a baseball follower, but that word of Ted William’s fame still managed to reach him.
“I remember growing up, seeing and hearing about Ted Williams on television. He was in several commercials advertising for JJ Nissen that would always run. My grandfather used to talk about him, too. When you live in New England, you can’t escape the news of baseball and sports,” Professor Ouillette said.
The one-hour documentary, which is narrated by Jon Hamm, took between two and a half to three years to complete. It does more than just survey the career of Ted Williams; it explores who Ted was as a person, on and off the field. This intimate aspect of the film was something that Ouillette valued.
“Ted was a complicated man, and it was fascinating to see how some of these people described him and his life,” he explained.
Professor Ouillette found that working on a couple of the interviews with those close to Ted Williams was extremely rewarding. Two notable interviews were with Roger Angell and Emily DiMaggio.
“I did sound on an interview with Roger Angell, a well-known sports writer,” he said. “He had some really interesting viewpoints about both Ted and baseball in general. He described baseball in more of a moral or philosophical manner, exploring the idea of how the sport has the potential to be the ‘perfect game.’ If played perfectly, a single game could go on forever.”
“He talked about how the best hitters in the sport hit at a .350, meaning that for every 10 balls pitched, they hit 3.5 of them, on average. Ted Williams consistently did this, and even better, but no one has been able to hit a perfect game. Roger also drew parallels between baseball hitting averages and life, bringing a unique perspective to the table and to the documentary,” he explained.
Emily DiMaggio is the sister-in-law of another famed Red Sox Player, Joe DiMaggio, and wife to Red Sox center fielder Dom DiMaggio. She had the opportunity to get to know Ted during his lifetime due to his close relationships with Joe and Dom.
“Filming her, seeing photos of her with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio hung on her walls, hearing stories of them, and listening to her speak about the complexities of her friend was one of my favorite parts of working on this documentary,” Ouillette spoke of meeting Emily.
Professor Ouillette also expressed how grateful he was to have worked with other impressive people during the process, including Nick Davis of Nick Davis Productions and Jack Fisher, who pitched Ted William’s last home run.
Aside from teaching various production classes at Northeastern, Ouillette is busy running Munjoy Hill Media and producing new films. He already has a few new projects lined up: one film exploring child marriage in 8 different countries and another feature length documentary in post-production that examines immigration in Tijuana, Mexico.
It is so exciting to see a member of the CAMD community’s work streamed on Netflix; congratulations to Professor Tim Ouillette for a job well done on this documentary!