365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley

Film Director Erik Proulx is spending a year documenting post-Sandusky State College, PA.

Email published here with permission

My dearest family and friends,

Many of you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time in State College, PA over the past few months, working on a film called “365 Days.” We are documenting how a community responds to a tragedy such that has occurred at Penn State. And rather than do a knee-jerk biased commentary, we are taking a full year to document and consider the subtleties and emotions of victimhood, blame, healing, retribution, and honor.

We began the process on September 1, 2012, and we will continue filming until that date next year. In the meantime, I just finished editing a trailer that, with any luck, will generate interest in the topic beyond the “Shut down the football program!” and “Arrest everybody!” reactions that have defined the majority of commentary so far.

Before you read on, one thing you must know is this: I came into this process reluctantly. Like most people, I had hate in my heart for a culture that would allow a pedophile to roam freely. While there are still no clear answers as to who knew what and when (beyond the monster who committed the crimes), I am learning in a very profound way that just because somebody says something on ESPN or the New York Times, that doesn’t make it true.

I’m hoping to get your support for the trailer, which means only that you “like” and view it on our Facebook page.

I’m proud of this project, and of how the trailer turned out. If you like it, please share it. If not, thank you for watching regardless.

With love,


Follow Erik on Twitter @eproulx and the film on 365DaysTheFilm.com


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About Erik Proulx

Recovering ad man. Filmmaker behind "Lemonade" and "Lemonade: Detroit." PSFK called him "A creative catalyst who inspires peers about their future." Roger Ebert called his film "gob smacking." Not that he's into name dropping.


  1. We are documenting how a community responds to a tragedy such that has occurred at Penn State.

    There has been a Tragedy at Penn State – A Tragedy In Happy Valley?

    I fear that someone is using language which may well cause a great deal of offence, because there was no Tragedy at Pann State – Penn State Itself was the tragedy and the Vehicle of Tragedy for others.

    There was no Tragedy In Happy Valley – Happy Valley was The Tragedy – again the vehicle to allow abuse and damaged lives.

    All those who took part – all those who bought into the false reality of Wonderland they facilitated tragedy and were also responsible for engineering abuse. Without their self serving Ra Ra Gullibility and Pom-Poms things could not have been kept hidden for so long.

    I wrote last year of just how it is possible for people to literally end up in a cult by Default, and as many look on and the truth comes out, more and more it looks like a headless cult in Happy Valley, people bitten by the seductive ways of group and ideal fused as one.

    Bite Me – Bite Me MediaHound wonders what happened in Happy Valley, the emotions involved, and looks at how the Victims are being treated by people who may not know their own minds.

    I really don’t like the idea of “…a tragedy such that has occurred at Penn State” cos to me it sounds like someone has been at the Kool-aid and fallen into a mind set that can’t stand back and look with clarity, only excuse and explain away – and in doing so negate the real tragedy which is the number of kids left hanging in open sight.

    It’s shocking too – the number of people in happy valley who knew and gossiped about not letting Jerry at your kids and not near a shower. Tragedy? Nope – Negligence and Criminality. There are people all over who knew and stood back. Some ask why groups like child protective services were silent and inactive. It’s simple – the people who colluded with silence and the happy valley air or unreality cut the legs out from under the people who needed to act.

    There was no Tragedy at Penn State or in Happy Valley – they were both the venues of tragedy and people talking about that should not appropriate the Victims Stories just cos a camera is about, or they have still to get head space that makes sense to them.

    I have great sympathy for the people caught up in the Happy Valley Cult and just how they feel and have felt as it has collapsed all around them – but the issues they face are not in any way equal or linked to the tragedy that has happened – and appropriation of grief and feelings is theft. Having your youth and even your life stolen is one thing – but theft of one’s emotions and rights to those emotions – that is actually worse.

    It will be interesting to see how the project pans out – but I suspect you will meet so many who display psychology, cognition and behaviour which you will struggle to make sense of and articulate. You may well find the frame work of Cult and Cult recovery to be helpful. It’s been seen before – Happy valley and Penn State was not the first … and that is where the real tragedy comes in, because so much could have been prevented, if people just learned the lessons of history rather than believing they could never end up being one of the people who make things happen by default.

  2. Erik, I just watched the trailer and I am looking forward to the film’s release. The one comment that struck me and doesn’t seem to strike the outside world…”So much of this has been about Penn State and Penn State Football but no one has mentioned anything about the failure of the child welfare system and what is being done to address it…”

    As someone who grew up in State College and has family currently living in town, what burns me is that …EVERYONE… the media, the politicians, and the justice system have COMPLETELY and conveniently looked the other way with regards to the government’s own failings in this fiasco.
    I have yet to hear one person in authority explain why the 2nd Mile, the child welfare agencies, and the State’s Attorney General have completely received a free pass on this?

    If people actually cared about the kids, they’d be all over 2nd mile. It is becoming increasingly clear, that this is just about destroying the University & Joe. Who can be “more outraged” than the next person.

    If protecting kids was important, people would be up in arms about how the state knew about this, yet let Sandusky adopt 6 kids and run an organization giving him access to kids. Governor Corbett gave Sandusky’s organization $3 million when he knew he was molesting kids. That doesn’t even get mentioned by Freeh?

    In the end, this community, this state, and this country are destined to repeat the same tragedy….because we consistently fail to address the real problems and hold those accountable who are entrusted to protect our children.

    This tragedy is bigger than the people of State College, football, Joe or the Pennsylvania State University.

    Erik, you and your film makers have an opportunity here… please don’t miss it. Ask the bigger questions.

  3. Rick,
    Thank you for your response. That is certainly one perspective we’re exploring. And as you can see from the trailer, there are many other complicated layers as well. Everything from the media’s role in creating a story all the way to how a town responds (anger? forgiveness? retaliation?). In any case, that’s why we’re spending a full year. Although, as I’m learning, even that won’t be enough time. -Erik

  4. Ralph Vuono says:
  5. I’m not looking forward to it from the trailer, though I could be wrong. Just showing emotions seems limited. Redemption from evil we harbor.

    Ricks right. It’s bigger than what’s generally seen. For example, The taboo that create invisible male victims. Our whole culture does that. Why were the dead soldiers from Iraq hidden from the media? Male rape victims refused service at “Violence against Women’s Act” funded agencies? The “Invisible War” with it’s even more invisible **male** victims.

    How taboo and shame create invisibility in many areas. How invisibility works.

    I hope you can cause people to reflect at how we all are part of how Penn State happened, not a few “bad men”. Many women surely knew too. Did they stop it?

  6. Sagacious Rick. I don’t think the vitriol would have been as bad if Penn State only had a basketball program and a squash intermural team. See August 28, 2012 Statement by Group Chairs of the Faculty Senate.

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