Growing up with a grandfather who enlisted and fought in WWII, I would always hear stories of how he was physically affected by the war. Particularly the story of how a stray bullet hit a close-by window, causing him to lose his right eye. In his later years, he would often suffer from bouts of anger and depression, but I was too young to understand that any of it was connected to his experiences in the war. I didn’t know until years after he had passed away that he had been diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
In 2013, I met Guy Spagnoli while studying film editing at Columbia College, where he was also studying to achieve his bachelor’s degree in cinematography through the GI Bill. My roommate shared a class with Guy, and was interviewing him for an assignment about his experiences in the Vietnam War. He asked me if I’d like to edit the interview to gain experience and I jumped at the chance.
I was immediately drawn to Guy and his openness about the atrocities he experienced in Vietnam, along with his almost 50-year struggle with PTSD and the guilt stemming from his infamous unit - Charlie Company. After I had finished editing the interview, I was still intrigued by what Guy was going through and how forthright he was about his past. I wondered if these were some of the same feelings my grandfather had beneath the surface.
A few months later, I was able to meet Guy in-person at a screening of the interview and told him what his experiences meant to me. Afterwards, I added him on Facebook so we could stay in touch. Right away, I noticed something he had never mentioned in the interview - he was a huge fan of all things Disney, and had even worked at Disney World at various times in his life!
I began making Keep Moving Forward purely out of curiosity - to know more about the effects PTSD can have on a family, and to find out if there was a connection between Guy’s struggles and his passion for Walt Disney and the world of fantasy he created. I learned Guy’s lifelong fascination with Disney was not only centered around its innocence and warmth, but has been a constant source for his own self-worth and motivation to keep moving forward.