Best Seat in the House - An Assistant Director Behind the Scenes of Feature Films (paperback) (COLOR)
Shooting a feature film is a fascinating and complex process. With his uniquely personal insight and experience, David McGiffert offers a captivating and entertaining view of moviemaking from the Best Seat in the House. Drawing from over three decades as an assistant director, McGiffert charts a revealing and informative journey through the making of many major films working with noted directors such as Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, Sydney Pollack, Milos Forman, Peter Weir, Steve Zaillian, Jon Avnet, and Terry Gilliam. Illustrated with photographs from across the author's cinematic career, this behind-the-scenes book is a must-read for casual moviegoers and committed film lovers alike.
“I met David while preparing to make Vanilla Sky, a challenging New York movie that would star Tom Cruise. Cruise himself had told me about McGiffert. They’d worked together several times (as you’ll read in McGiff’s terrific accounts to follow) and Cruise indicated that we’d be lucky to get him. ‘He’s the best.’”
~ Cameron Crowe
"He isn't a name most movie buffs recognize, but with 46 movies and a television series to his credit, McGiffert has had a long, productive career in one of the most essential jobs in filmmaking: assistant director (AD). Between 1973 and 2004, his credits have included Absence of Malice, Tootsie, Witness, The Firm, King Kong, and the Back to the Future trilogy. What does an AD do? McGiffert explains in this memoir/insider's guide to the film industry. He talks about scheduling shoots, determining how many extras are needed and when, and running most of the on-set activity so that the director is free to concentrate on the overall contours of the movie. Before digital film took over in the 2000s, he was also responsible for processing and shipping the daily takes for the director's viewing to determine what worked and what needed to be reshot. On set, he's the hub of communications. McGiffert's aim in this charming book is modest: to tell stories and talk about people. But what people! Sydney Pollack, Milos Forman, Paul Newman, Willie Nelson, Natalie Wood, and Dustin Hoffman populate his anecdotes, among others. This book is great fun. And who doesn't want a peek into the exciting world of filmmaking? VERDICT This unpretentious memoir about filmmaking will appeal to anyone in love with the big screen." - Library Journal