Gerding's Drones Star In 'Marauders' Movie

Jun 22, 2016

Bob Gerding's drone films a SUV driving through Hueston Woods State Park for "Curvature."
Credit Provided by Bob Gerding

The opening shot of the "Marauders" trailer gives a bird's eye view of the Roebling Suspension bridge, thanks to veteran Cincinnati video pioneer Bob Gerding.

Gerding will talk with me on WVXU-FM's "Cincinnati Edition" 1-2 p.m. Thursday about how his drones provided cool aerial shots to "Marauders," the bank heist thriller opening July 1 starring Bruce Willis, Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista and Adrian Grenier.

The 3-ft by 3-ft drone, with a Movi camera gimbal, filmed several times over Fourth Street, and shot the aerial view from  downtown to the robbers' hide-out on McMicken Street on the fringe of Over-the-Rhine at the request of "Marauders" director Steven C. Miller.

Bob Gerding holding the $25,000 Arri drone
Credit John Kiesewetter

"We showed it to them, and he said, 'Dynamite! That's exactly what I want.' And then they gave us a list (of aerials) they wanted," says Gerding, who owns Skylark Aerials LLC with his Colorado-based son, Chris Gerding.

One person flies the $25,000, eight-propeller Arri drone by remote control in a follow car. A second person  in the car "operates the drone, and shoots what the director wants" with another remote control, Gerding says.

Gerding's drone gives Kristen Schlotman and the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission yet another reason to lure Hollywood filmmakers here.

In nine months, the Gerdings have filmed aerial scenes for three movies. They were in Columbus last December shooting scenes for Arnold Schwarzenegger's "478" feature film. In May they filmed a SUV driving down High Street in downtown Hamilton, and through Hueston Woods State Park near Oxford, for the independent sci-fi "Curvature" movie.

Here's a link to Skylark Aerials LLC's cool little 2-minute highlight video

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris Gerding, Bob Gerding and drone pilot Matt Reagan on the set of "478" in Columbus last December.
Credit Provided by Bob Gerding

Drones are just the latest innovation for Gerding, a cinematographer, director and producer who founded a local production company nearly 40 years ago after working for WCPO-TV and WCET-TV. His PPS Group (Post Production Services) has done everything from shooting Cincinnati buildings and exteriors for "WKRP in Cincinnati" (1978-82) and organizing the first "Light Up Cincinnati," to digitizing aging film, videotape and audiotape.  

When "WKRP" producers first came to town, "they told us exactly what they wanted (shot)," Gerding says.  "After a while, they trusted us to shoot what they needed. They'd call us up and said, "We need a shot to go with….' They called us 'Phone-A-Shot.' They left it up to us."

In recent years he's added a new subhead to his resume: Actor. He's appeared as an extra in Cate Blanchett's "Carol," Jessica Biel's "A Kind Of Murder" and in some local company films.

Gerding tells me that in 1958 or '59, he hosted "Twilight Time" on WVXU, when programming was transmitted by wire around the Xavier University campus, before the station received a broadcast license. So tune in Thursday afternoon when he returns to WVXU to hear Gerding talk about his career, and to call in with questions.

One more thing: Here's the "Marauders" trailer.  Warning: Several drone shots break up the extremely violent scenes for "Marauders," which is rated R for strong violence, language, brief drug use and nudity.