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Production Journey to Awards Ceremony: 1996 Alumnus Wins Emmy for Documentary

The cinematography and production work of Class of 1996 alumnus Jonathan Miller has been recognized as a documentary he worked on, The Last Out, won Outstanding Business and Economy Documentary at the 44th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards, last September. 

The Last Out tells the story of three young Cuban baseball players chasing their dreams of playing Major League baseball in the United States. The documentary took over four years to make as the directors Michael Gassert and Sami Khan along with Jonathan traveled all over Central and North America to document the players’ journey to the world of professional sports. More importantly, the piece offers a humanistic perspective on the struggles and adversity the players faced along the way.

“The heart of our film explores how athletes of color are dehumanized and commodified by the system of professional sports,” said Jonathan. “It offers an unprecedented window into an incredible moment in the lives of Cubans as the world was shifting under their feet.” 

For the artistic and cinematic direction of the documentary, Jonathan noted intimacy is what he sought to achieve and shot a vast majority on vintage prime lenses as it forces filmmakers to move in close and earn the trust of the participants.

The Last Out premiered on PBS and their POV (Point of View) showcase series in October 2022 followed by theatrical releases and arrival to streaming services including Apple, Amazon, Vudu, and GooglePlay. It also appeared on airplanes in the fall of 2023, perfectly timed to coincide with the World Series. The documentary won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Florida Film Festival, and the Hot Springs Film Festival. 

Currently, Jonathan is developing a series about engineers tackling climate change problems along with a variety of other work including a limited series for Peacock, a basketball-focused project for Netflix, and prepping cinematography on a project for a French company about NASA's Artemis II project. 

Jonathan attributes his passion for the creative arts and storytelling to former theater teacher and Performing Arts Department Chair Michael Smith as well as former English teacher Bill Hunter and current Upper School Dean of Students John Greenawalt during his time in Peer Leadership. He noted that he also keeps in contact with other Hamden Hall alumni including Robert Sandagata 1994 with whom he attended a concert in Boston, spent time with Michael Bennett 1996 and his family, and has been working with fellow 1996 alumnus Jeff Zemetis.

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