Menu Close

Working with Barbie’s pastel-pink world was a nightmare


With Barbie breaking office records, reaching the billionaire club, and spearheading what appears to be a massive Mattel Films Cinematic Universe, it wasn’t all sunshine and pink-tinted rainbows. Actually, it was a nightmare working with so much pink. The pastel picture fostered a vast following thanks in large part to the film’s legacy in Development Hell and the meme of watching it then heading next door to watch Oppenheimer.

Speaking with TheWrap, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto had to figure out how to work with so much of one, pastel color. While most films use backlights, it was a bit more of a task with Barbie since the bright iconic color tinted all actors magenta. He didn’t want this — it was just a product of the tactics. He also didn’t want to introduce too much black for a hard contrast, either, so he was left trying to figure out another solution.

Prieto arrived at using neutral colors, mainly gray. He draped everything he could in the neutral color to offset any tint that may occur while still letting some light shine through. The end result is the film’s well-crafted world full of pastel colors and aloof designs.

“One of the challenges was that there were so many props and set design that was a very saturated pink, and other colors too, but mostly pink. So anytime I turned on the backlight, the bounce on the faces was pink, so all the actors looked magenta. I didn’t want to create hard contrast or anything, so I wouldn’t be able to bring in black – they call it negative fill – so instead of negative fill, I created a neutral fill. So what that is, is that we had tons of neutral gray material, and we’d drape everything that was not on camera with gray. That way it was bouncing some light, but it wasn’t tinted with color.”

Prieto wasn’t the only one who had their work cut out for them. Greta Gerwig also tapped Truman Show director Peter Weir to make the world feel authentic. Meanwhile, Weird Barbie’s home was based on the home from Psycho. All that’s to say that the crew certainly had fun putting not just this set but this world together.

Here’s hoping we can see a good future for Mattel’s next toy film ventures, which include Monopoly, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Polly Pocket, Hot Wheels, and more.

Posted in News