'Barbie' and beyond: how Film BA graduate Faith Glenister is breaking into camerawork 

22 February 2024

Film graduate Faith Glenister operating a camera on a film set
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Category: Our graduates

As Barbie bids for best picture at the 2024 Oscars ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Falmouth Film BA graduate Faith Glenister, who worked on the film as assistant to Rodrigo Prieto ASC AMC, the film’s Director of Photography (DoP). So – where do you go from Barbie? Faith's got her sights set on a big screen fantasy.

Officially the highest-grossing film released by a solo female director (Greta Gerwig), Barbie has taken more than £1 billion worldwide at the box office and received critical acclaim for its cinematography. How does it feel to be to be part of the Barbie phenomenon? 

I knew Barbie would be good, but it’s so big – it makes you feel amazing. Seeing it for the first time at the crew screening in Leicester Square was a bit of a blur, as I felt like I was re-living filming. I took my mum and sisters to see it and appreciated the story more. It was a proud moment for me to be a part of something that had a lot of love put into it. 

As assistant to DoP Rodrigo Prieto, I felt that he gave me a lot of responsibility, with lighting diagrams and being his point of contact on-set, allowing him to focus on the creative. He’s the nicest guy and I absorbed so much. Being involved with Barbie has really made me want to do more. 

Where did your love of film begin – and how did this grow at Falmouth? 

I studied media at A-level and enjoyed making music videos, but I became interested in reading books that had been adapted to film and seeing whether they’d changed much on screen. I had minimal experience when I started the Film BA at Falmouth, but the course embedded a real love of the theory, understanding and production of film. I was 100% shaped there.  

The course was incredibly broad, so I could have a go at everything and explore different sectors of the industry. It was while I was shooting my second-year short film that I felt like a filmmaker. It was those serendipitous moments on set that made me think ‘we’re actually filmmaking now’.  

You graduated in 2015. How did your early career progress? 

I realised that I preferred being with the camera, on the technical side of filmmaking, but I had to figure out how to get there. I moved to Bournemouth and spent two years as a production assistant and in-house videographer with LoveLove Films. Falmouth’s Head of Film & Television, Kingsley Marshall, invited me back to work on a short film, Backwoods, and I secured a placement through the University’s Sound/Image Cinema Lab on the BBC Films feature film Make Up.  

In 2018, I made the jump to London. It was a weird three-year period of finding my feet, but I knew I wanted to specialise in one thing and focus on camera. I tried trainee schemes but found an internship with camera rental house VMI, before moving to ARRI Rental where I honed my knowledge. It was at ARRI that I met Fabian Wagner ASC BSC, who then offered me a trainee role on House of the Dragon S1. 

I had minimal experience when I started the Film BA at Falmouth, but the course embedded a real love of the theory, understanding and production of film. I was 100% shaped there.  

Rodrigo Prieto is a four-time Oscar-nominated DoP, known for his work on Wolf of Wall Street, Taylor Swift’s music videos and epic western Killers of the Flower Moon. How did you secure the role as his assistant on Barbie

I think it’s important to be super transparent with people about what you want to do. On HOTD S1, I  shared my goals with camera operator Aga Szeliga. Aga did a day of lens testing with Rodrigo and he said he was looking for an assistant – I had an interview and that’s how I got Barbie

It was daunting to start on Barbie as I’d never assisted a DoP before, but I was keen to do something different and to push myself. I did lighting diagrams and script breakdowns, sat in on storyboard meetings with Greta and acted as a point of contact so Rodrigo could concentrate on the creative side. He relied on me for technical info, as I’d previously worked as a camera technician with ARRI. I built a rapport with the crew and my network is now stronger.  

What can you tell us about life on the Barbie set? 

Both Margot [Robbie, who played Barbie] and Ryan [Gosling, Ken] were incredibly serious about the portrayal of their characters and the story of who they were. We ended up doing something like 18 takes for one scene as Margot’s performance was so funny; Greta was engrossed as she was enjoying the performance so much. I feel privileged to have witnessed that.  

We were based in studios at Leavesden, near Watford, in the surreal Barbie cul-de-sac on M stage. Rodrigo gave me a lot of time and said at the end that he felt really supported by me. It was such a great experience. 

What’s your goal now – and how will you get there? 

I’m currently working in Spain on Venom 3, as a B-camera loader, and with Fabian, Aga and Mitch Payne for HOTD S1. I only recently stepped up to loading, so I’ll spend some time doing this and then hopefully start camera operating on short films.  

I’d love to operate on a fantasy film, something with lots of interesting sets and art design. There’s nothing better than walking onto set and feeling as if you’ve been transported. My favourite is Labyrinth, with David Bowie – like Barbie, you can step in and feel like you’re in that world.  

I enjoy being around camera, working in a team, and I love the troubleshooting aspect of filmmaking. You’re always learning, the kit is always changing and there’s so much that’s new and exciting to understand. So much thought goes into every detail. That’s what makes film so fascinating. 

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