The Chicago Journal

‘Red All Over’ Director John Wayne S. III on How He Went From Production Assistant to Successful Director

Image Internally Provided
Image Internally Provided

John Wayne S. III (JW) is known by many as the director of the critically acclaimed indie film Red All Over, a poignant story of gun violence, mental health, bullying, and life. Over his twenty-six-year career, John Wayne has been a storyteller, filmmaker, and producer, having garnered years of immersive experience in multiple aspects of both the film and music industries. John Wayne’s unique work gives audiences fresh lenses for viewing reality as they have never seen before through film, music, and television.

John Wayne’s eye for filmmaking comes from his desire to reveal the lesser-known. He has always loved telling stories of people/events that are not noticed by many. The director has a penchant for zooming in on the smaller, less understood lessons that seem to get swept behind the scenes despite their importance.

The Chicago native is a firm believer that everyone has an important story to tell. He has a special interest in envisioning stories from alternate points of view. For social justice projects, for example, he uses different lenses to look at the issue at hand and step backs to gain clarity.

John Wayne’s remarkable career in production and film began when he worked as a production assistant, in Chicago, for director George Tillman Jr.’s first feature-length film, Scenes for the Soul. During those days, he was only getting his bearings in the industry. He spent a lot of time working on productions, in his search for the information he needed to be better at his craft. He read, researched, and absorbed the tools and tips that he needed to guide his career. 

When film production wrapped, John Wayne then explored the music industry with Grammy-nominated producer Steve “Silk” Hurley and eventually became director of international A&R, supervising agents in both the UK and Japan.

Encouraged by his growing knowledge and intimacy with production and publicity, John Wayne joined forces with another director to produce music videos. Realizing the evocative power of music videos and their potential to amplify the emotions of the music, he started JWS Productions to focus on this art form. Since then, John Wayne has produced over 200 music videos, 70 commercials, and a variety of media projects.

After ten years of successful projects, John Wayne was chosen to become president and general manager of DL Records, where he guided the label’s trajectory and helped propel its artists into mainstream media. Under his leadership, DL Records generated the hit single, “We Don’t Play Dat,” by Bodaiga,  produced by Lil John, and featured Bun B of UGK.

Despite all his success, John Wayne longed to return to his roots—filmmaking. Eager to return to the frontier of documentary and feature films, he established Londyn Town Pictures, named after his daughter, in 2009. His first production was Last Step Before Reality, a documentary that followed six young adults, aged eighteen to twenty, attending an alternative school.

John Wayne made his film directorial debut with Red All Over, starring Slim Thug (American Rapper), Donna Biscoe (Hidden Figures, Girls Trip), Charmin Lee (Just Mercy, The Inspectors), and Victor Love (Native Son). The film was received positively by critics and audiences, marking his directorial debut a success. John Wayne continues to focus on producing and directing new film and TV projects. He is currently working with a showrunner and a few notable producers in developing several television shows.

Lately, the director has been assisting young filmmakers in bringing their projects to life, providing the needed guidance and understanding on how to steer production. He wants to help keep the art of storytelling alive by guiding young filmmakers, writers, and producers in making their dreams a reality.

Learn more about John Wayne S. III on Instagram and his production company, Londyn Town Pictures, on their website.