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Student-Produced Film To Document NCAA Sanctions

The aftermath of the NCAA sanctions can be a sore subject. The university and community became divided over legacies, lawsuits, and lingering questions. Now there’s a documentary in the works, aptly titled “Sanctioned,” that looks to highlight the time in Happy Valley since the sanctions on Penn State.

The idea for “Sanctioned” came from filmmaker Eric Porterfield, who’s no stranger to Penn State films. He produced “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley” and “The Joe We Know.” His current work claims to be “a story about obstacles and love,” and includes interviews from players, students, and media members about the time in Happy Valley during and after the sanctions were handed out.

Porterfield is a Yale graduate, but benefitted from the help of several Penn State students along the way. Jack Tumen, a graduate from the College of Communications, joined Porterfield to help direct and produce the film. Tumen has worked on other Penn State films including an excellent short flick on Ken’s Best Wurst. I sat down with the now Penn State grad to talk about the upcoming film.

Onward State: What is the film “Sanctioned” truly about? 

Jack Tumen:  The film is really a community story of a shared experience of what these four years were like for the State College community, the students, alumni, football players, teachers, really anyone who is associated with Penn State. They really had to feel the brunt of what was going on here when the sanctions came down from the Sandusky scandal.

It really doesn’t focus on that as it does with the aftermath and the rebuilding and the healing process. A lot of that is channeled through Sam Ficken, who obviously is the best goat to hero story that I’ve encountered in my entire life. Every single Penn Stater can relate to him and can resonate through him with the way he was able to persevere and his story along with what he went through with his teammates is what this story is all about.

OS: What made you get involved with the making of the film?

JT: After the Pinstripe Bowl, my dad told me that I had to do the Sam Ficken story and I agreed that it would be a great story to tell. So I contacted Sam and I pitched the idea to him and he told me that someone had already called him to do a film. He let me know that he would be overwhelmed with doing two films so he went with the first guy. Turns out that guy is Eric Porterfield and I thought it would be a great opportunity to join him.

OS: How were you able to get in touch with Porterfield?

JT: I actually reached out to him on Twitter, introducing myself and letting him know that I would love to join his production team for the movie. We were able to get in touch with each other and that’s really where the ball started getting rolling from there.

OS: Along with Sam Ficken, who else were you able to get for the film?

JT: Well there’s Sam that we interviewed for it, we got players Mike Hull, Jesse Della Valle, and Ben Kline. We got Kevin Horne of Onward State, and Chris Buchignani of the Nittany Valley Society. A lot of this film is coming from the lettermen that are helping to fund it like Franco Harris and Bruce Clark who are big behind it.

OS: What do you think this movie will mean to the Penn State community when it comes out?

JT: I think it’s really going to bring somewhat of a sense of closure to a lot of people because through all of the things that Penn State had to go through over the last few years, we came out of it stronger. We’re more united now and I think there are very few communities in America that would endure what Penn State’s community did.

OS: What was your inspiration to get into film making? 

JT: At first, my goal from the beginning was to be a broadcaster and call Penn State football games. Luckily enough I was able to join The LION 90.7FM and I was able to do what I dreamed of for the last three or four years. I got into Comm 481 with Curt Chandler this fall semester and I’d always been into photography and I was getting to the point where I really needed to figure out if broadcasting was what I wanted to do.

I had a passion for photography and multimedia and I thought I should explore the opportunities while I still had them. I ended up making this final piece — “To Be Daydreamers” — about my friends’s band in New York and making that film made me realize that I loved doing it. I felt like I had achieved everything I wanted to with broadcasting and this was the next step in my life.

OS: Since you’re now a graduate of Penn State, what’s next for Jack Tumen?

JT: I will be staying in State College for the summer for an internship with the State College Spikes production team while also working for Magnum Broadcasting, and most likely looking for a third job. I’m saving up this summer and heading out on a two-month road trip to the West Coast at the end of August.


“Sanctioned” is a Kickstarter film by Bedlam League Films, and you can donate here for the next month. Here is the trailer for the upcoming film:

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About the Author

Jacob Abrams

Jacob Abrams is a sophomore from Oxford, PA, majoring in Management in the Smeal College of Business. Jacob is the President/GM of The LION 90.7 FM along with being a play-by-play commentator and sports talk show host. He is a sports fanatic, and strongly supports the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and the New Orleans Saints. He is a first-generation Penn Stater, and in his free time he likes to play sports and sing. You can follow him on Twitter @jake_abrams and contact him at [email protected]

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