When Joe Jacobs ’18 heard that cable sports channel NESN was hosting its second college film competition, he knew what story he wanted to tell.
Jacobs, a Broadcast Journalism major at Emerson, happened to work at Fenway Park with Marti Sementelli, a member of the U.S. women’s baseball team who has traveled the world to play in the Women’s Baseball World Cup and helped her team take home a gold medal from the Pan-American Women’s Baseball Championships.
Jacobs enlisted two friends—Liam Fitzmaurice ’18 and then-Emerson student Douglas Emerson—to make The Outside Corner, about Sementelli’s career in and dreams for the little-known sport of women’s baseball. The film joins Bar Down, by Mia Doyon ’19 and Brooke Goshtigian ’19, as Emerson’s submissions to the competition.
NESN Next Producer, which debuted February 4, is a weekly series that features two student-produced sports shorts each week, along with backstories on the students. They’re judged by TV Hall-of-Famer and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner and Brad Falchuk, co-creator/executive producer of TV hits Glee, American Horror Story, and Scream Queens.
Viewers can vote for their favorite films on the series website, but on March 25, Werner and Falchuk will select three finalists, who will be assigned to produce a film short on a topic of NESN’s choosing. The team with the best short will win $20,000 and a job/internship opportunity at NESN.
Jacobs said while a job at NESN would be nice, it was great just to go to the station’s studios and get feedback on their film from the likes of Werner and Falchuk.
“Especially for Liam and I, we grew up in the Boston area, so we watched NESN our entire lives,” Jacobs said. “It was just a cool experience.”
But the real impetus behind making the film, Jacobs said, was to bring some attention to Sementelli and her sport. When she’s not playing for Team USA, Sementelli plays locally in a men’s baseball league. In the United States, where women are expected to play softball, women’s baseball is virtually unheard of.
“When she goes abroad to internationals, she’s regarded as a celebrity. In South Korea, there would be people waiting at the airport to welcome [the team],” Jacobs said. “When she comes back, she’s just a normal person.”
The Outside Corner airs on NESN Saturday, February 25, at 12:30 pm.
Doyon and Goshtigian’s film, Bar Down, aired during the premiere episode immediate following the February 4 Bruins postgame.
The film tells the story of John Gilpatrick, a former Suffolk University hockey player who was paralyzed during a game in 1996 but learned to walk again years later.
Goshtigian had grown up hearing his story, because her father had a connection with the family, and he proved to be a great subject, Doyon said.
“He was such a nice guy,” Doyon, a Visual and Media Arts major said. “He was super helpful, really willing to be interviewed; he wanted to talk about it.”
Doyon said as athletes themselves (she and Goshtigian both play lacrosse), they spend a lot of time training and trying to prevent injury, so Gilpatrick’s story was unsettling, but hopeful.
“Hearing just how injured someone can get that quickly is a little scary,” she said. “But it also helped us that he didn’t give up and it ended up working out for him.”
While she and Goshtigian certainly would be interested in working for a sports channel, Doyon said, they’re really just interested in doing anything production-related once out of Emerson.
The feedback from Werner and Falchuk, who said they liked the story they were telling, was fair and valuable, she said, and whatever happens at the end of the competition, they’re glad they did it.
“I think it was really fun for us to make the video and to be able to work together on a project like this,” Doyon said.