Director: Film to capture post-Sandusky scandal life, energy of Happy Valley

A film crew making a documentary on how the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal affected the community and how the community is recovering was in State College on Tuesday working on the production.

“365 Days: A Year In Happy Valley” is expected to debut Dec. 26 at the State Theatre and will have a wider release after the new year at 40 movie theaters around the country.

“We’re looking at this area’s reinvention and the pride that has grown even more so since the chips are stacked against them,” said director Erik Proulx.

Last summer, State College-area resident and producer Eric Porterfield brought his vision of the documentary to the Texas-based director. Proulx said he originally declined the offer — several times — until he saw there was a side to Penn State and State College that outsiders don’t get to see.

“Penn State is what this community is,” Proulx said. “It gets this negative stereotype from the media, but the public also extends out of State College and they’re a group who said ‘Do we move on or do we fight?’ This community will not let this incident define who they are.”

Proulx said since he’s jumped on board with the documentary, he’s heard the naysayers criticize him for keeping the issue in the spotlight.

Proulx defended his film: “It’s our mission now to accurately portray this town.”

Porterfield said he got the itch to make another documentary focused on the State College area and its view since the Sandusky scandal after he made “The Joe We Know,” a documentary on former coach Joe Paterno.

He was inspired to team up with Proulx after he saw the director’s first documentary, “Lemonade” — a view of life after being laid off from the advertising industry.

Porterfield spent a majority of his life in Centre County, as his father was a former dean at Penn State. Now, a Port Matilda resident, Porterfield said it’s his job to show the other side of Happy Valley since the Sandusky scandal.

“It was painful how the national media got it wrong,” he said. “It showed one side of a place that has so much good. Here you’ll see how forgiving people are and how this impacted every facet of the town.”

Filming began Sept. 1 and will last until the first football kickoff this year, said associate producer Angela Cepullio.

So far, Proulx said the crew has interviewed and filmed students, student-athletes, other employees of the university as well as local residents and business owners on how the scandal impacted the area.

“They said sales were low. It was an overwhelming amount, because people just didn’t want to go out much,” Cepullio added. “The energy and excitement was gone.”

Recently, the filmmakers also were in New Orleans interviewing former Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti on NFL draft day. They also interviewed Penn State coach Bill O’Brien earlier this week.

“This area is based around his football team,” Proulx said. “(O’Brien) didn’t want to focus on the past but said he feels it’s his duty to help lead a team and help bolster a community. He just wants to be focused on the present.”

And Porterfield added that the film will gauge how far the community has come.

“(State College is) not a place you can come to and make a judgment about in a week,” Porterfield said. “You need 365 days to see the strength of this community.”