Running the Show: The Essential Guide to Being a First Assistant Director, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Running the Show

The Essential Guide to Being a First Assistant Director, 2nd Edition

By Liz Gill


264 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367187385
pub: 2019-10-11
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9780367187361
pub: 2019-10-11
Available for pre-order

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Whether it's a crew of two hundred shooting a cast of thousands on horseback, or a crew of twelve filming one person in a room, each and every successful movie production requires a strong First Assistant Director (AD) at its helm. In this new and updated edition, veteran First AD Liz Gill walks you through the entire filmmaking process through the perspective of the First AD, from pre-production, shoot, wrap, and everything in between.

This book provides invaluable insight into working as a First Assistant Director, featuring tricks-of-the-trade for breaking down a script, creating a schedule and organising test shoots, alongside how to use turnaround time, weather cover, split days, overtime and continuous days to balance a challenging schedule and get the most from the cast, crew, and the shoot. This new edition has been fully updated and expanded throughout to provide up-to-date coverage on new equipment and software, health and safety considerations, and the implications of VFX.

This is the essential guide to becoming a successful First Assistant Director, ideal for professional and aspiring AD’s seeking to further their career, students of directing and production looking to gain a better understanding of how this department works, and anyone interested in film & TV production.

The accompanying e-Resource provides an expanded selection of sample call sheets, report templates, checklists, and other useful documents.


"An essential book for all A.D.'s - Trainee to First, those new to the game, or experienced old hands. This bible covers EVERYTHING and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're serious about being a First AD and want to know how to get there - READ THIS BOOK!!"

Nick Thomas, First Assistant Director, Vikings and Game of Thrones

Praise for the Previous Edition:

"I would encourage not only AD’s but other crew (and even cast) to read this book to gain a greater understanding of how the many parts of a film production can work together in a harmonious flow."

Jim Sheridan, six time Oscar nominee, Director, My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, In America

"You can’t learn this in film school or buy this experience, but you can read this book. Liz Gill is a top first AD, and I hope everyone who wants to work in film and Tv will receive the wisdom available here"

Christine Vachon, Producer, Mildred Pierce, Boys Don’t Cry, Go Fish, I’m Not There and Far From Heaven

"This is the book I wish I had when I was starting out; detailed, accessible and never forgetting the big picture. Running the Show is a must-read for anyone starting down that treacherous and highly rewarding road as an assistant director"

Timothy Bird, DGA member, First Assistant Director, Far From Heaven, Requiem For A Dream, Definitely, Maybe, In The Cut

"What a fantastic book. Liz Gill has written a funny, easy to read guide that fully explains the inner workings of preparation and production for movies and TV. Read this book before you begin your next production… it will save you time and money."

Bruce A. Block, Producer, The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, What Women Want

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Pre-pre-production

Chapter 2 Pre-production

Chapter 3 Production

Chapter 4 Wrap

Appendix 1 SAG Tier Budget Thresholds

Appendix 2 Filmmakers’ Code of Professional Responsibility

Appendix 3 Some Filmster Jokes


Websites and Other Resources

List of Illustrations


About the Author

Liz Gill has been working as a first AD since 1994, for directors such as Barry Levinson, Todd Haynes, and Kevin Reynolds, working on widely seen films such as The Omen and Bloody Sunday. She studied at Columbia University and NYU before beginning her career as an assistant to Martin Scorsese. She then worked as an Assistant Director on non-union and studio films in NYC and LA before moving to Ireland, where she is one of the top first ADs in the country. Liz is also a Director, with feature credits Gold in the Streets and Goldfish Memory as well as TV work for the BBC, RTE, Starz Encore, Hallmark, and Producer of the feature film Tomato Red and Series 5 and 6 the TV series Vikings.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Film & Video
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Direction & Production
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Screenwriting
PERFORMING ARTS / Television / Direction & Production