Nicole Scholet interviews Rob Child, Emmy® Nominated Filmmaker and Author, about his newest book release -. a historical fiction novel on Alexander Hamilton’s experiences in the Revolutionary War called Rush On Boys: Hamilton at War. His screenplay Hamilton, on which this book was based, was designated as an Official Finalist in the 2011 Hollywood Screenplay Contest.

Nicole Scholet: You spent 15 years technical directing hit TV shows, including Who Wants to Be a MillionaireEmeril Live, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, before turning to producing historical films. Where did your passion for history arise from?

Robert Child

Rob Child: I had a history minor with my Communications Degree from the University of Massachusetts. I always loved history, it always came easy to me, and I couldn’t understand where some people were frustrated with it, because I looked past the dates and imagined myself in the time.

In the early 2000s, I was doing everything from big talk shows to music specials. I worked for MTV, The Daily Show, etc., for years and years, but after a while…I recognized that I wanted to put my own stamp on things, put my own work out there, rather than working for someone else. It was tough, but I was really focused at the same time, writing films, trying to get things funded and produced…I got my break in 2005 when I did Lincoln and Lee at Antietam. I was offered a contract with a distributor – I had started the film with my own money – and I was offered a contract with the funds to finish up the film…that was kind of the break for me.

NS: You’ve written, produced, AND directed several big historical films, with your film The Wereth Eleven receiving a nomination for an Emmy® award. Is this the first time you’ve worked with the Revolutionary War time period?

RC: Yes, it is. I had wanted to do a Revolutionary War piece for a long time. I had actually solicited outside screenplays to look at producing a film…

NS: So, how did you first come across Alexander Hamilton?

RC: It was with the distributor Inecom that I did Lincoln and Lee and Silent Wings. They said, ‘Well, Rob, what’s your next project?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know…I haven’t thought about. I like telling these unknown stories.’
This CEO said, ‘I think we should do some known stories’. It was very interesting, he said, ‘Pull out your wallet…do you have a ten dollar bill in there?’
‘As a matter of fact I do.’
‘Who’s on that $10 bill?’
‘I want a story about that guy. Somebody who people carry around in their wallets all the time. I don’t want a story about the duel, it’s been done. I want a story about his military career, what his life was before.’

And I said, ‘Oh! Okay, that sounds like a great idea. I’ll write up a treatment and get back to you.’ So I took several months to research and I was intrigued by him and I started digging – this was 2004 or 2005 – I started digging into this history and I was really amazed. The cut-off was the end of the Revolution and the start was his childhood. And it was just an incredible story that could really be brought to life. I wrote this treatment…and you know, it was pretty good and I submitted it to the distributor and they said, ‘Ahh…it’s too expensive’ [laughs]. I just wouldn’t let it drop. I wrote it not thinking about it budget-wise, but I wrote it for the story aspect and I really liked it.

So I did some more research and I said, ‘Well, I’ll write the screen play,’ you know, really taking it a step forward. So I spent probably nine months writing the screenplay, overwriting it, polishing it, revising it, and cutting it back.

I said, I’ll submit it around, and it was recognized as an ‘Official Finalist” in the 2011 Hollywood Screenplay Contest.

NS: Yes, congratulations. That’s such a huge honor.

RC: Yes, thank you. And Scriptshark, which is a script review service, really liked it but thought it was too expensive [laughs]. But they thought the writing had a lot of talent. I had the screenplay, but it’s a period piece, so people assume that it’s really expensive, but again I wouldn’t let it drop.

NS: So what went into the process of writing this book?

RC: I said, I’m not going to let it just sit in the drawer; I want people to see this story. So I dove back in last year, instead adapting the screenplay to the book. It’s a really tedious process, believe me. Screenplays are not like novels. There’s no interior thought in a screenplay… you can’t have someone in a scene think their way down the street, it’s mostly dialogue. I had to add in interior thought and format it, break it into chapters, so it was another arduous process getting it down to the book form. But to me, it was worth it. I wanted the story out there, after starting it back in 2004..what’s this, 2013? [laughs]. It’s been a long process, but I just never gave up on it.

NS: The name of this book is Rush on Boys. What’s the story behind the title?

RC: During the attack on Redoubt #10 at Yorktown, I believe the password was Rochambeau [the commanding General of the French troops] but when we started the attack, people in Hamilton’s troops started yelling “Rush on boys! Rush on boys!” It was funny because the French who were attacking the Redoubt #9 just across from them thought it was really wonderful the Americans were yelling Rochambeau [laughs], their general, but they were actually yelling “Rush on boys!” That’s not a myth, because I have that from an eyewitness account of the attack on Redoubt #10. A soldier says ‘A great cry of “Rush on boys!” rose up as we surged towards the British garrison,’ so I thought that would be a great title.

NS: Though it’s a work of historical fiction, you’ve obviously done an extensive amount of research for this book. How did you carry out the research process?

RC: I looked to a compilation of books, Flexner’s book Young Hamilton, Ron Chernow’s book, Brookhiser’s book. Then I looked to the 19th century writings that were released by some, and others – pamphlets, things that I could find that were really obscure, like in internet archives. In the research and the writing, I would have three sources open at all times so I could cross reference book to book, pamphlet to whatever, so I could determine for myself what I thought was accurate…try to determine if something is suspect or not…

NS: Alexander Hamilton first joined a volunteer militia in New York in 1775. If you look at his life just three years before, he’s an orphan living on an island in the Caribbean. If you look at his life just three years later, he’s essentially a chief-of-staff for George Washington. What to you is the most incredible part of Hamilton’s story during the Revolutionary War?

RC: I think that people recognized his brilliance through his ambition. He was ambitious, but he had the brains to back it up – that was what was impressive to me. He just stands out like a bright light throughout the Revolutionary War and after as the most competent founder that there was. When you take that overall, that driving motivation to succeed is really what strikes me. In the first part of the story [the prequel to Rush On Boys], the prelude to the revolution, I have a scene where Reverend Knox is speaking to [Thomas] Stevens, the father of Hamilton’s friend, saying, ‘He just seems to want to succeed at everything,’ and that’s the sense you get – he wants to attack and succeed at everything. It’s incredible, someone who has the drive to actually accomplish things…

I also wrote it with an eye towards younger people. Looking at the story, someone in their twenties can accomplish so much, and people could look at their own lives and think, ‘ Wow, I could do this as well and be successful.’ I think it’s inspiring to young people. I hope so.

NS: If you could have the reader take away just one message from your book, what would it be?

RC: That’s a tough question. Probably that Hamilton, out of all the founders, really grasped what America could be. And he was excited about it, and he actually built it. People have to recognize that fact. In Hamilton’s America, he recognized the greatness of what the country could be because he’d seen the worst of what a country could be. People just took it for granted and didn’t have the imagination that he had. I think that’s probably what I’d want people to recognize, that he knew the greatness that was coming before the country was formed.

NS: Rush On Boys is being turned into an audio book, correct?

RC: Yea, I just got the audio files from the narrator in Scotland and am in the process of reviewing them. They sound fantastic. This guy James Gillian is a real storyteller. He brings the story to life – you kind of lean in a bit closer to the computer to listen. The audio files have been submitted to and the book should be released on Itunes and around April 28th. I will have an announcement on my website and Facebook.

NS: Now that you’ve released Rush On Boys, what are your future plans?

RC: I should be releasing the first installment of what I call the Hamilton trilogy this summer, the Prelude to Revolution. I’ve been writing the third installment on Hamilton as a statesman. If you think about it, there’s Hamilton patriot, warrior, statesman. I’ll be releasing the statesman installment sometime next year. That’s going to be tough to write because there’s so much [laughs].

Beyond Hamilton, I’ll be directing the 150th Gettysburg anniversary film this summer in Gettysburg. It’s the 150th anniversary of the battle and I’ve been commissioned to produce the official film of that. It’s going to be a massive event, 20,000 re-enactors and 70,000 spectators. It’s just huge, and it’s going to be over 4th of July. We’re going to release the DVD in November, and it’s going to air on PBS in February.

Also, I’ve been talking about co-writing a series called “Gettysburg to Appomattox” with a fellow writer and also another WWII series.I’ve just released the audio version of my How Canada won the Great War book, narrated by a fantastic narrator in England, Colin McLean. I’m really excited about it as I believe WWI is “the next big thing”. And you can check out the audiobook at this link at Other than that, I would love to do more World War I stories because we’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of World War I in 2014.

I’ve got a lot of keep me busy!

NS: Well thank you so much for speaking with us. We appreciate your efforts to elevate the public’s awareness of Alexander Hamilton. Best of luck on the book series and your future endeavors! 

Rush On Boys: Hamilton at War was released in February 2013 and is now available from Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions. Also, visit Rob Child’s official website to find out more about his past and upcoming projects.

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