ARRI ALEXA Mini LF and Signature Primes capture the explosive cinematography of Netflix’s “The Big 4”

DP Batara Goempar ICS shoots action-packed scenes and heart-pounding stunts with the lightweight and visually gripping ARRI large-format system.

Feb. 2, 2023

With the Indonesian film industry rapidly evolving, Netflix continues its collaboration with various local filmmakers to produce new Netflix Original films and series. The streaming giant recently released “The Big 4,” which was shot with ALEXA Mini LF camera and Signature Prime lenses. The action-comedy follows an exacting cop and her search for the truth behind her father’s death. Through her investigation, she discovers that her late father once led a group of retired assassins, with whom she must now team up to defeat a common enemy.

“‘The Big 4’ is like a combination of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and ‘The Beach’ with a splash of comedy and heart-pounding action,” says cinematographer Batara Goempar ICS. “It was originally more similar to a family drama, but with director Timo Tjahjanto’s treatment, the film was transformed into something different.”

Watch the trailer for “The Big 4”

04 Videoe Image neuer Trailer

How the team approached “The Big 4” visually was a no-brainer. Goempar reveals that their methods were decided early on in the production process. He recalls, “For the scenes in the metro, we wanted to make it more gritty and moody with bluish tints. For this, I used a lot of balloon lights and SkyPanels, with a few sodium vapor lights. I would have the lights at the same height and the same angle but with different ranges of colors to add dimension. With SkyPanels, I could easily change the color temperature.”

“As the production moved along, we switched locations and shot in Bali, where 80 percent of the scenes were filmed. Timo wanted those scenes to feel like a tropical adventure island with plenty of explosions. To depict this, we used a lot of warm and earthy tones—more chocolate, more green, and a more sandy feel. We largely relied on the sun and used more natural lights,” continues Goempar, who spent four months with his crew for principal photography.


DP Batara Goempar ICS with ARRI ALEXA Mini LF and Signature Primes

Camera movement was also crucial in bringing out their vision for the film, and that’s where the ALEXA Mini LF and Signature Primes came in. “We needed a camera that would work well with ballistic movements. We did a lot of handheld shots for the fight scenes, like sudden and quick pans, tilts, and zooms. We had to disassemble the camera on set; we took only the camera, lens, and monitor and placed them on a backpack for my operator. The Mini LF’s carbon fiber body and the Signature Primes’ magnesium alloy design were incredibly lightweight, yet could still deliver a quality performance,” says Goempar, emphasizing how small cameras with immense capabilities were critical in the field.

For the lenses, the “Before, Now & Then” cinematographer opted to stick to the 35 mm, switching only occasionally. He explains, “Even when I brought an entire set of lenses, I almost always used the 35 mm, sometimes I swapped it to the 47 mm and 125 mm, if necessary. I think the 35 mm best represents what my eyes see. If I wanted to get closer, I would simply move closer to the actor instead of changing the lens."


DP Batara Goempar ICS and crew on the set of “The Big 4”

“I’m a fan of extreme wide shots and extreme close-ups, but with other cameras, I can’t get too close to the actors. I would need some distance and a longer lens. But, with the ALEXA Mini LF, I can capture the actors’ expressions and their eyes. It gives me a very immersive look, especially when I pair it with the Signature Primes. The lenses have a lower minimum focusing distance and a softer look that I prefer. It’s like these tools are destined for each other,” adds Goempar.

The cinematography from Indonesia has long been highly regarded, but with the number of international and local productions increasing, the current bar is even higher. “The audience certainly expects more from our motion picture industry now. But aside from that, we also need to show the world that Indonesia has brilliant cinematographers and filmmakers with outstanding bodies of work. As long as the trust and opportunities are there, we are capable of many things,” says Goempar.

“The Big 4” is now streaming on Netflix.