PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth High School graduate and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Brook Silva-Braga has created a report on the life of fellow PHS grad and Navy Seal Robert Guzzo. Mr. Guzzo died by his own hand on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2012, in San Diego, Calif., hours after a Veterans Day celebration with other Navy Seals.
The story, filmed for the Washington Post daily newscast The Fold, includes pictures and footage from Mr. Guzzo’s early years growing up in Portsmouth.
Its timing, Mr. Brook-Silva said, is linked to Navy Seal interest prompted by release of the movie Zero Dark Thirty which “celebrates the most celebrated moment in Navy Seal history, the killing of Osama bin Laden … Part of the allure of the Seals is the secrecy surrounding them. We rarely learn their names or see their faces, but today we will, as we focus our entire show on just one Seal, and the secret he kept …”
“I went to high school with Rob Guzzo,” Mr. Silva-Braga says in his report, “and even then he was a giant personality, a force of will you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of, or maybe more to the point, he just convinced you you wanted to be on his team because his team would probably win.”
The story includes footage of his young daughter and interviews his parents. Both tell of a boy and young man who had an irrepressible enthusiasm for everything he undertook. But they also talk of his return from harrowing service in Iraq and his subsequent struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Reached by phone in Washington DC Friday, Mr. Silva-Braga said that the segment, which aired Wednesday, was actually filmed when he was home visiting his family at Thanksgiving.
It was then that he was able to speak to Rob Guzza’s mother, Lieutenant Commander (retired) Robin Andersen of Portsmouth. He also interviewed Rob’s father, Robert Guzzo, now of Raleigh, NC.
“I think they were convinced to talk about what is a painful subject by the fact that Rob and I knew each other and that we had mutual friends. There was some trust bond.”
He and Rob were both members of the PHS Class of 1997 and last saw each other around Christmas of 2005 shortly before Mr. Guzzo deployed to Iraq.
“We ran into each other down on Thames Street in Newport and got together later with some other friends from school … What I especially remember from that was how very proud of being a SEAL he was. He seemed to light up when he talked about it.”
Mr. Brook-Silva is host of “The Fold from The Washington Post,” the paper’s daily newscast streamed through Google TV, Android devices and washingtonpost.com.
H said he got his first filming experience while at Portsmouth High School courtesy of the local cable outlet (formerly TCI, now Cox).
“Brian Medeiros let me use the equipment and I’d go out and do play by play of high school basketball games and Portsmouth High School football games.” They would also “let me do some interviews for public access shows.”
“The biggest hit show they had was the Santa call-in show” — callers would phone in with their Christmas wish lists. “That was my first chance to direct live TV.”
Later he continued his film training at New York University.
Prior to joining The Post, “he used journalism and documentary film as handy excuses to travel to more than 50 countries across six continents,” says the Washington Post website. The films he returned with include “The China Question,” “One Day in Africa” and “A Map for Saturday.”
In 2011, Silva-Braga transitioned from documentary to long-form TV journalism, reporting a wide range of stories built around strong characters and in-depth interviews.
Mr. Silva-Braga’s parents, John Braga and Nancy Silva, live on Common Fence Point in Portsmouth and his sister Quinn lives in Newport. He said he gets back to his home town as often as possible.