Feb. 20, 2024

ARRI equipment helps DP Logan Schneider bring memories of “Arnold” to life

Cinematographer Logan Schneider leveraged ALEXA Mini LF as well as ARRI Signature Primes and Zooms to recount the stories of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life on Netflix’s “Arnold.”

Feb. 20, 2024

How does one approach creating a signature look while capturing footage of one of the most famous individuals in pop culture and cinema? This was a question cinematographer Logan Schneider had to consider while filming Netflix’s three-episode documentary series, “Arnold.” An intimate look at the life and experiences of Arnold Schwarzenegger as told by the star himself.

After joining the production roughly two months before shooting, DP Schneider and director Lesley Chilcott were tasked with building a unique, but at the same time familiar look centered on the famous actor, professional bodybuilder, politician, businessman, and all-around public icon. The DP recalls, “We had to figure out how to create a certain style for the interview, which was the primary core of the film, and it had to show Arnold in his larger-than-life way. Not just as a movie star, but also someone that was accessible to the audience, so finding a balance between big and relatable was a really delicate line we were trying to walk.”

Following a series of tests running the gamut of spherical and anamorphic large format lenses, lighting setups, and several different LUTs designed with DIT Eli Berg, Schneider finalized the desired look for the interviews: “One could call our approach enhanced realism. The shot should feel heightened to a certain extent, but not like it’s in a different world, it should feel present.”

I’ve been using the ALEXA Mini LF for years now, and it seems like the perfect tool.

Logan Schneider


Utilizing LUTs with reference points from recognizable films like “The Sound of Music” and “The Red Balloon,” the resulting look was a mix of sharp lenses and cameras in the form of Signature Primes, Signature Zooms, and ALEXA Mini LF to create what Schneider described as “hybrid nostalgia.” Furthermore, he elaborates, “I’ve been using the Mini LF for years now, and it seems like the perfect tool. You’re starting at such a clean and pleasing place that I can choose to put on a steep LUT that blocks out the shadows and rolls off the highlights more smoothly, mostly using the center of the dynamic range. While the large format does take away some of the lens options, we created a hybrid look, combining modern elements with soothing subtleties to create a very particular texture while trying to build it in a subtle, textured way. That’s where the Signatures came in.”

Knowing that much of the series would take place in a low-light versus a high-contrast interview setting in Schwarzenegger’s office, Schneider leaned heavily on the Signature Zooms for their unique versatility, clarity, and authenticity within a natural environment. “You could take everything to the edges and use the full dynamic range, but you’re not going to be limited in any of those choices by the lens. I found that the focus roll-off was very kind, and it doesn’t feel like it’s forcing the clarity down your throat, it’s really a nice way to capture natural light.”


DP Logan Schneider and Signature Zooms in Vienna

Not wanting vintage lenses that felt too different, Schneider relished the opportunity to utilize cleaner, more modern glass, which emphasized his subject. The series’ main interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger featured Signature Zooms of 65-300 mm and 45-135 mm, which created the sense of intimacy that Schneider and director Chilcott so desired, and in turn, allowed for more flexibility in movement in addition to the optimal visual characteristics. The DP explains: “This is the only set of zooms I’ve ever seen on digital cameras where you feel like there’s not a difference between the zooms and the primes. The primes’ only major advantage now is that besides size, they are a stop faster, but outside of that you really can’t tell without a chart, and even then, it’s subtle. They were exceptional. The last time I’ve seen a match like that is when the original Optimo zooms and the S4s were on 35 mm celluloid. 15-20 years ago, you could put those on film and it would feel seamless, so it’s been more than 15 years waiting for that to come to digital, and the Signature Zoom is the only one to have pulled it off.”

The ARRI Signature Zooms are the only set of zooms I’ve ever seen on digital cameras where you feel like there’s not a difference between the zooms and the primes. They were exceptional.

Logan Schneider


While a large portion of the shoot did center on the sit-down interviews, there was a component built into the series’ recreations of Schwarzenegger’s stories and memories, otherwise referred to as “original photography” by Schneider. The “original photography” and verité (or interviews) were separate and very different. The verité scenes were usually handheld or easy rig, but the “original photography” was constructed like a narrative shoot, with specifically directed shots, often on a dolly or Steadicam. Additionally, some aspects of the interviews with Schwarzenegger featured peaks and valleys of energy from the subject, and Schneider knew that interrupting the constant activity of Arnold would all but derail the documentary’s honest and intimate nature. With a c-force motor attached to a left-hand Master Grip, Schneider enabled himself to pull focus with the feeling of having an experienced AC on set giving the documentary the refinement of high-end remote focus. “If I hadn’t had the Master Grips, it would not have functioned the same at all,” he recalls.

While the shoot ran without much of a hitch, Schneider did recall a certain instance that presented itself as a challenge initially, though the use of ARRI Signature Zoom lenses aided in alleviating all concern in matching during post. “It’s difficult to keep up with Arnold. We filmed [Arnold] in a tank with me inside and then on top of his vehicle with 16-32 mm Signature Zoom. It was so tight in there, I couldn’t have the camera fully built. I had a battery belt made to support all the accessories, so I could jump off, and put it on a tripod with a  65-300 mm on the camera in about 40 seconds with AC John Parson. Arnold just kept going until we got all this great tank footage. The two of us raced as fast as we could enjoying the freedom those two lenses provided. I didn’t have to worry about whether it would match the sharpness of the primes. We just really shot on those two lenses and got everything and had a dynamic sequence without waiting.”


DP Logan Schneider utilizing Master Grips and Mini LF

The combination of ALEXA Mini LF, Signature Primes, and Zooms allowed me to bring a narrative cinematic scale to a documentary project—and the consistency and creative freedom to bring it to the level that I wanted to see on screen.

Logan Schneider



DP Logan Schneider embraced an energetic and dynamic approach to filming the documentary’s live elements

In capturing the raw essence of one of the world’s most iconic figures, Schneider artfully wielded the power of modern technology to produce an authentic and compelling visual narrative. Leveraging the adaptable features of ALEXA Mini LF, Signature Primes, and Signature Zooms, he succeeded in creating an ‘enhanced realism,’ striking a careful balance between Schwarzenegger’s larger-than-life persona and his human relatability. In summary, the cinematographer comments: “The combination of Mini LF and Signature Primes and Zooms allowed me to bring a narrative cinematic scale to a documentary project, and it allowed me the consistency and creative freedom to bring it to the level that I wanted to see on screen.”