This series of posts highlights some of our local industry talent: on-screen and behind-the-scenes, established and up-and-coming. We asked Britani Alexander to provide insight into her work as a Transportation Coordinator, how she got started, and what advice she has for people trying to get into the film industry.
Britani Alexander is a Utah-based second generation Transportation Coordinator that has been working in the local film industry for 27 years. Britani has worked on various made-in-Utah productions such as far back as Crossroads and Touched by an Angel, through many small Independent Productions including 127 hours. In the last few of years, she and her crew have done Wind River, Time Freak, Damsel, and Yellowstone. Currently, Britani is running between Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties working on the recently announced production, Good Joe Bell.
Is this career path something you always wanted to pursue?
You know what, as soon as I started doing it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I couldn’t imagine being behind a desk. I love the logistics. Every show is different, every day is different. You also bond with your crew like family because we’re around each other for 12-20 hours a day and I love that sense of family that you don’t necessarily get in the corporate world. Plus, you get to be outside, it’s great!
What is your experience both living and working in Utah?
I think living and working in Utah is wonderful. I love that we have a fast-paced, adrenaline-based work life but then we can be up in the mountains and be serene within 20 minutes. I love the contrast of our fast-paced life and tranquility of the four seasons. I think we are very fortunate and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The best part about working in Utah is the crew camaraderie. Since it’s a smaller pond, the film crews take care of each other which I think some of the larger states don’t do.
Films don’t come to Utah to just be in a studio, most of the productions are location based. I really feel fortunate because I’m both in the office and on set. I think that I have the most freedom. I get the best of both worlds because I have that office time to get the logistics done and then I get to go out on set and enjoy what I’m doing. I often say, if you see me on set too long, you know that I’m having a good time. To just sit back and say, “okay, it’s all come together.” It’s important to take those moments and breathe it in.
How do you typically prepare for a job?
I try to tackle all of the logistical questions before they even arise. I fully break down the script and I get into the intricacies of asking the producers and the departments questions before they ask me. I want to get ahead of the logistics so that when we are in the practical, every question has already been asked. To me, prep is the most important part of my job because it’s almost like I’m setting the groundwork, I’m giving my entire department the tools with which to work. The day-to-day runs itself because it was laid out in prep but we can deal with the surprises as they come. Some surprises include weather, breakdowns, actor changes and with a well-laid plan, you’ll be ready.
Transportation is the ground level department and in that, it touches every single department on the show and really allows them to thrive. A quote that my dad gave me years ago that I still go by is, “the best transportation is invisible transportation.” If they don’t notice you then you’re doing a great job. That really exemplifies transportation because if they do notice, then production is halted.
What are some recent projects that you’ve worked on?
I actually got to know Taylor Sheridan who is so fiercely loyal to his crew, on Wind River. I worked with Taylor Sheridan on Wind River and since he is so fiercely loyal to his crew, I was pulled over to Yellowstone. Right now I’m working on Good Joe Bell. In the middle of that, I actually took a step back and was the DOT admin on Disney Channel’s Andi Mack. I think it’s really great for every department head to gain a perspective of stepping back and doing something different because it gives you a better perspective on your department. The recent big projects were Wind River, Andi Mack, Hereditary, Damsel, Yellowstone and the current production that I’m working on now, Good Joe Bell.
How much of a Utah presence did you feel on the set of Utah-made productions that you have worked on?
I think there is definitely a Utah presence on all productions. Right now, I think the Utah core crew is kind of spread thin so it might not be in sheer numbers or percentages but people go to Utahns for what’s here and to understand the protocol. I really believe that there’s a recognition of the out-of-towners to look to Utahns for their experience and wisdom and I appreciate that. Between Andi Mack, Yellowstone, and Good Joe Bell, the out of town crew has a lot of respect for the Utah crew. I think that is our presence.
Do you have any funny experiences or stories from set?
It’s a day to day that you find comedy in the chaos. At the end of Touched By An Angel we had been dealing with a lot of equipment and we were on a mid-day move and a tire blew on the honey wagon trailer. I told the team to drop the trailer and keep on going and to go back for the trailer later. As my guys were moving to the next location, I get a call from highway patrol to see if I knew anything about the trailer off the side of the road and that he was going to tow it. I told him, “if your tow truck gets there faster than mine can, can you tow it to this location?” The cop laughed and said that he’d wait for my tow truck to get there.
If you could work with anyone or anything, who or what would it be?
I feel very fortunate to be working with Taylor Sheridan. I have not experienced his type of fierce loyalty to not only his creative process and projects but to his crew. Working with Taylor is really great. I would love to start working on shows that are more international and to start working abroad. I think that would be fun. Controlling the chaos becomes a bigger thing at that point. It’s the best next step.
What advice would you give a local who is trying to get into the industry?
Don’t be afraid of trying out different departments and putting yourself out there. Be proactive because this isn’t a resume based industry, it is an interpersonal-based industry. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and keep showing up. Most importantly, try different departments because you will eventually find the one that fits. Don’t be afraid of independent film because that is where you can really get your feet wet and see all aspects of production. The bigger the production gets, the more divided the crew is. On an independent, you’re getting a taste of the whole thing. Enjoy those days.
Syd Smoot is the Film Office Coordinator at the Utah Film Commission. She’s a Utah native and studied cinema studies at Northeastern University. For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission at email@example.com.