Rotor DR1: How Facebook Users Helped Create a Feature Film

The producers of Rotor DR1 used Facebook to glean input on the film’s plot, cast and details, with similar efforts also taking place on Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube and a custom-built forum.

What if a bunch of Facebook users teamed up to create a movie? That’s not quite what happened, but the social network was a large part of the community collaboration efforts behind Rotor DR1, which will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and video-on-demand Oct. 20.

The producers of Rotor DR1 used Facebook to glean input on the film’s plot, cast and details, with similar efforts also taking place on Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube and a custom-built forum.

Director and executive producer Chad Kapper said in an email to SocialTimes:

The most important part of Rotor DR1 is our community. Their input built our world, developed our characters, drove our story line forward and created the centerpiece drone race for the film months before drone races were even on the public radar. It was like having a global virtual writers’ room. We listened, processed their feedback and made decisions based on the influence of this feedback.

The team behind Rotor DR1 detailed the community collaboration process in a press kit:

When Rotor DR1 began, all we had was a concept and an experimental development process: community collaboration. We knew that before we could begin production, we needed to create the universe in which our characters lived. And we were going to build it together with our community.

During the first month of community collaboration, we presented our seed community with three ideas as the foundation for building the world: A cataclysmic event had removed one-half of the world’s population, the skies were filled with autonomous drones and the drone that would become the main character’s companion was different than the other drones.

From those parameters, we developed the Rotorverse together. We created the landscape sparsely populated with humans yet densely populated with drones. We invented the social hierarchy of the survivors, with those that successfully hoarded supplies and power at the top, and the outcasts of society (called fringers) at the bottom. We developed the potent power source of arcanum pellets, which power the drones delivering vaccines. These “Arc Pellets” became the standard currency used by the survivors. We designed the apocalyptic virus that devastated humanity, and the company, Sky Medix, that used drones to try to stop the virus.

Writer and creative producer Megan Ryberg added:

Rotor DR1 released the film in segments on YouTube, releasing and shaping each successive segment based on community input. Not only is Rotor DR1 taking their content seriously, their primary function is to serve their audience and build the story the way the community wants.

Rotor DR1 doesn’t just take suggestions for the sake of appearing transparent. It empowers its community to create and collaborate. This crowdsourcing of creativity brings ideas that the production team may never have discovered on their own. And what’s more, it makes the final result better.

The Rotor DR1 community contributed ideas that vastly improved the web series and film. They invented characters that added depth to the story. They cast the perfect people to play the leads. They wrote voiceover for the main character that affected his arc and how the audience perceived him. They made Rotor DR1 great.

RotorDR1FBAuditions RotorDR1FBEveOrMaya RotorDR1Relationship RotorDR1FBBrunoGunn RotorDR1FBDroneRacesAtmosphere RotorDR1FBPowerDrones

A plot synopsis of the film was also provided:

After a viral epidemic eliminates 90 percent of the world’s population, the survivors struggle to rebuild and reconnect with the world they’ve lost. Autonomous drones, originally meant to deliver vaccinations for the deadly disease, now fly aimlessly through the sky and are hunted for their parts and power sources.

But when a 16-year-old boy named Kitch stumbles on a peculiar drone named DR1, clues about his long-lost father begin to surface. As Kitch defends his new drone from a local crime syndicate, he befriends one of its members, a young woman named Maya. With Maya’s encouragement and DR1 leading the way, the three travelers set out on a journey to find Kitch’s father. Potential enemies lurk around every corner, and Kitch, Maya and DR1 must work together to navigate the unknown and find the answers they seek.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s role in the creation of Rotor DR1?

RotorDR1Bus RotorDR1Drone RotorDR1DroneRaces RotorDR1MedicalDrone David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.