Rotor: DR1 – A Boy and His Drone (Review)

Directed by Ohio filmmaker Chad Kapper, starring his son Christian and written by four hobby drone enthusiasts. Rotor DR1 feels a little like “A Boy and His Drone” but this experimental community film is entertaining despite its slow pace and awkward acting by the cast.

rotor-medical-delivery-drone

Directed by Ohio filmmaker Chad Kapper, starring his son Christian and written by four hobby drone enthusiasts. Rotor DR1 feels a little like “A Boy and His Drone” but this experimental community film is entertaining despite its slow pace and awkward acting by some of the cast. Christian acquits himself rather well, as does his romantic interest Maya (played by Natalie Welch). 

The setting is an indeterminate time in the future after a virus has decimated the world’s population and stopped the clock on many modern conveniences. This post apocalyptic world has energy pellets as currency and the only technology that seems to still work are the pilotless, and programmed, drones that fly through otherwise quiet skies.

Kitch (Christian Kapper) is a lad whose father worked on a cure for the virus and who the boy believes is dead at the start of the film.  Finding a drone that is different from any he has seen before, leads Kitch to believe his father is still alive somewhere.

Maya (Welch), whose uncle 4C collects energy pellets, goes with Kitch on his journey to discover whether his father is alive or not. The two youngsters meet several interesting people along the way and also get caught by two of 4C’s thugs.  They enter DR1 in a drone race, escape the thugs and eventually learn the truth about the virus and Kitch’s father.

Rotor Arc Pellet
Post apocalyptic currency, rotor arc pellets…

Rotor DR1 began life as a 10 part web series that was, in essence, written by fans of hobby drones.   As the webisodes progressed the makers asked the community for feedback every step of the way. Input received from the drone community and fans of the series influenced the storyline, character arcs and the show’s finale.

After the web series ended it was then edited into a feature film format and distributed via Cinema Libre Studio.  In many ways the final product feels like an overlong student production, or like a film version of the old Andy Hardy, “lets put on a show in the barn.”

While this may make it sound like the production is amateurish, it is not. Granted many of the actors feel wooden and not a little stilted. This does not, however, detract from the story or its conclusion.  Rotor DR1 is a family film where the action has no gore or needlessly explicit violence, sex or unacceptable language.

There is no attempt to give the drones, not even DR1, a “Wally-ish” type of interaction with Kitch or Maya.  The drone prototype does have a very limited interaction with the boy, but that is facilitated via a camera attached to the machine along with an amped-up power supply and A.I. capability.

rotor-maya-dr1-kitch
Maya (Natalie Welch) and Kitch (Christian Kapper) and DR1

What helps to sell the film and enable the viewer to overlook any shortcomings, is the voice over narration by Christian Kapper. His “internal” monologue with himself feels genuine and sincere. We believe his musings to be true because of his underplayed delivery.

Both Kapper and his costar Welch, have a good onscreen chemistry as the two disparate youngsters thrown together by their mutual interest in the mysterious drone. Their shared journey is made more interesting by their “genuine”  interaction.

The biggest complaint about the film  has to be that patchwork quilt feel as the movie was cribbed from a “group effort” based upon fan feedback.  That said, this is a fascinating experimental take on filmmaking.  Certainly the boy and his drone feel to the film keeps the audience watching in spite of the slow pace and somewhat discordant storyline.

Kapper is not a young Don Johnson and his drone cannot “talk” to  him like the Harlan Ellison inspired 1975 film A Boy and His Dog (the dog’s voice provided by Jason Robards). The boy’s search for his father and his travels are interesting though and this film does not rely upon a largely misogynistic theme or sex to maintain interest.

Rotor DR1 could almost be described as bargain basement Disney.  It is family friendly, has a tiny budget and contains nothing that is remotely controversial. This is standard fare with an interesting storyline and just enough action to keep the interest piqued throughout.  A 3.5 star film, out of 5, that is well worth the time spent watching it.

Horizon: Science Fiction Web Series is Cracking Entertainment

Steven and Chloe see the ship

Paul Dudbridge is, in essence, the English Robert Rodriguez of science fiction webisodes with his cottage industry approach. Directing, co-writing, co-editing, producing and working as cinematographer on what is obviously a labour of love. The end result is Horizon, a 10 part web series (with the tagline: In 2015 Everything Changes) which follows the  journey of five people who are affected by the sudden appearance of spaceship over Bristol.  The series starts on 5 October, 2015 and from the first frame, the viewer is caught up in the events on screen.

Starring, Paul Tonkin, Simon Pierce (who also co-wrote the series along with Paul and Chris Marshfield), Kate Marie DaviesCassandra Charlick, Alicia Ancel, Kessie Bartlett and Jason Allen, the webisodes, that run from four to 10 minutes in length, look brilliant and the acting,  based upon a pre-screening of the first three episodes, is spot on. Combined with exceptional CGI effects this is compelling viewing. 

Each segment moves quickly and contains a “bit of business” from certain characters and a bit of action.  (There appears to be a “hidden” thread as well, keen eyed viewers will notice a small mark…) The  webisodes project a sense of realism, from the use of ITV real-life newscaster Ian Axton (who also played a newscaster for the superlative ITV drama Broadchurch) to the “everyman” characters we watch attempting to come to grips with the “invasion” and their efforts to escape the threat.

Other “bits” includes Davies’ character Nicole, after being helped from the wrecked car by Steven, she grabs her cell (mobile) phone and after checking it, leans close to Steven, peers closely at his mouth and asks, somewhat accusingly, “Have you been drinking?” Positively brilliant bit of business that had this viewer chuckling and nodding while acknowledging that if one were in Steven’s place, it would be so annoying from his point of view.

Later on, Dudbridge uses the cell phone as a scene enhancer and as a sign of just how much the smart phone has become an essential part of our lives. The  scene shows that these bits of modern technology control us as well.  In the same setting, on top of a carpark where Steven’s younger sister Katie is hanging with her hoodie mates watching the spaceship, when the alien craft defends itself against attacking aircraft, the device shows us what the aliens used; EMP.

This is science fiction presented on an intimate level yet it feels big. The airliner,  the escalation of events and  that huge alien spaceship hovering over Bristol. Entertainment that delivers enough impressive set pieces to raise goosebumps on the viewer.  After the spacecraft sets off the EMP blast there is a jet airliner that comes zooming into the frame, just over the fleeing hoodies.  The aircraft is so low that it causes the snotty Katie and big brother Steven to duck for cover. For such short blasts of entertainment this is a wonderful bit of business.

Steven, Dan, Chloe and Nicole set out to gather supplies, and Katie, in order to escape to the  country.  Despite the shortness of the episodes, the characters are clearly defined and their interactions with one another are revealing.

The cinematography is  spot on and, for once, the sound is perfect. The actors are not drowned out by the soundtrack and the “foley” effects do not override the action. The blend of ambient sound along with the dialogue is just right.

Horizon is cracking entertainment that leaves the viewer ready for more. Dudbridge has said there will be a second season if all goes according to plan. These type of shows are what the Internet could have been invented for. Slick, polished and feeling like a big budget production with some stand out acting from the cast, this is magic in a web series.

The cast of Horizon

Horizon starts 5 October and for more information about the show, the crew, the cast and the story head over to horizonwebseries.com. Like the tagline says, “In 2015 everything changes,” check out the series site and see why.

 

Tiny Lister Exclusive Johnny Dynamo Season Two Interview

Tiny Lister Exclusive Johnny Dynamo Season Two Interview

Tommy “Tiny” Lister took time out of his very busy schedule to speak to the Guardian Liberty Voice in an exclusive interview that covered season two of Johnny Dynamo, working with Joe Thomas and Terry Kiser, acting, The Fifth Element , being a role model and of course, “You have 20 seconds.” The 56 year old former basketball player, professional wrestler and actor has 183 credits under his belt and has played some very intimidating characters on celluloid. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing in at approximately 300 pounds, producers and directors would not want to hire Tiny to play a shrinking violet type.

Johnny Dynamo Season Two Starts September 14

Johnny Dynamo Season Two Starts September 14

For anyone who loves the Web Series Johnny Dynamo, created by Dennis Mareno and Joe Thomas, the news that season two of this off-beat look at a washed-up action television star is starting on September 14 will be cause for celebration. Starring newcomer Rick Wells (The Accidental President, The Good Book) as Robert Pierce Mitchell, aka RPM, aka Johnny Dynamo, the series follows the change of fortune of a star who fell from grace after a publicity stunt went wrong.

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