Film director focuses on human interest story

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When it comes to film directors, Robert Child (Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom) takes a personal approach to his art. Rather than focusing on new-age effects or shocking twists and turns, Child focuses his energy on a much simpler aspect of life.

“The inspiration basically comes from the human story,” Child said. “I have to connect with it. [I’m drawn to a story] if I feel the story needs to be told, [if] the story isn’t told or [if] there’s a human drama to it. I feel that it connects with me and connects with the viewer. It isn’t necessarily the hottest topic, it’s more of those universal stories that everyone can relate to.”

Raised in the small Connecticut town of Summer, Child’s interest in film began at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Child received a film degree and a minor in history, a subject that “fascinated [him].”

For inspiration, Child said he looks up to Directors Peter Weir (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), Mel Gibson (Apocalypto) and Steven Spielberg (Munich). Child said he admires the longevity and consistency that these directors bring to their films, something he tries to emulate in his own work.

Child’s seventh and newest film, Silent Wings: The American Glider Pilots of WWII (Intercom, March 20, 2007), tells the previously unknown story of the glider pilots who were vital to the battle in Europe for the Allies. These pilots risked their lives to bring essential supplies and men behind enemy lines. Though the film’s release date marked a special moment for Child, the day became important on an even grander scale.

“Congress passed legislation on the day it was released to honor those World War I and World War II glider pilots,” Child said. “It was quite extraordinary. I was able to sit in the House of Representatives in the members’ gallery and watch the vote [as it took place].”

Silent Wings, which uses rare footage and photographs from WWII, is narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild).

“Hal was great,” Child said. “I didn’t know what to expect, and I really don’t get intimated by anyone, [so] I didn’t get intimated by him. I kind of just walked up to him in the studio and introduced myself . We just started one to one, down to earth, and we talked about our children. He started calling me dad. ‘Alright dad, let’s get this thing done,’ [He would say. It was a] comfortable, relaxed experience. He was superb. It was just fun.”

Child’s hope for the viewers of Silent Wings is that they can get wrapped up in a humanitarian cause, similar to the way that the glider pilots did when they were fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Child is currently is working on what he says is his favorite film, about Canadian independence, with the working title of Damien Day.