17-year-old Natalie Welch is the leading female actress in “Rotor DR1,” the post-apocalyptic film following the lives of two teenagers who struggle to survive in a world mostly wiped out after a viral outbreak, but who survive, in part, because of a drone that leads them to an answer that could save the world.
Welch plays the role of Maya, a charismatic teenager who lost her parents to the virus. She plays a role of an aggressive, independent and even selfish young woman, while also serving as a strong, steady character throughout the film.
How did you get involved in the production of “Rotor DR1”?
Natalie: The process was a little different than most audition processes. My agent sent me a notification about the audition. As the team got more into it, they were debating on a few different directions to go with my character. They wanted to let the audience build the character I ended up playing, so they narrowed the search down to two girls.
Yeah, I had heard the big focus on this film was making it “community-collaborated.” Thousands of online community members developed the online series and weighed in on everything from wardrobe to storyline. (Read more on that here.)
Natalie: We both went down and filmed the same scene with Christian (the character’s lead, who plays Kitch). They had the community decide which one of us would play this character. My audition tape was broadcast to the world. It’s definitely different.
Before you got involved with “Rotor DR1,” what was your impression of drones?
Natalie: I initially thought of the drones that I learned about in history courses – as being military drones. I pictured drones that the US had used in countries in the Middle East. I thought (the film) would be about that initially. I read more into the script and it’s not violent like that. The project definitely in general gave me a lot of knowledge on drones.
So this was pretty much your intro to the drone community.
I became really close with Eric (Monroe), our official flyer. He was essentially DR1. I’m from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and there isn’t really a huge drone community. But being on set everyday with a bunch of drone enthusiasts made me realize there is this huge community.
What was it like being on set with a ton of drones?
There were actually a few scenes where there were quite a few drones buzzing around, like the drone races – there were a ton of drones there flying the whole time. The drones weren’t edited in there in post production. You had to work with the audio and how to deal with white noise with the drone.
It’s almost like hearing about those movies where actors have to deal with animals on set.
Actually this scene got cut where we had a retired police dog on set. It was funny juxtaposing dealing with a dog and dealing with a drone. We’re lucky we can turn drones off.
Do you see a future like the one in the movie where drones are ubiquitous actually coming to fruition?
There’s definitely potential, maybe not necessarily with drones. It’s hard to predict which aspect of technology will come to the forefront. But especially with Google and their self-driving cars, there’s definitely potential for devices like that to become more powerful than humans. “Rotor DR1” really exemplifies a good way to approach that, where in the film, we treat drones as equal human beings. “Rotor” has feelings and emotions, and towards the end of the movie can communicate.
You can also check out a trailer for the film below: