The Chicago Journal

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

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.

Redemption in Action: 9/11 First Responder Paul Eliacin Ready to Share Myriad Films About the Tragedy-and a Whole Lot More

Ever since the appearance of Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was surrounded by news reporters, at Ground Zero 19 years ago, much has been written about the deadly 9/11 attacks back in September of 2001. The terrorist attempt, which took the lives of over 3,000 innocent men, women, and children, is still highly discussed until today. And Paul Eliacin has a lot to offer to this discourse.

As a first responder, Paul witnessed the traumatic experience firsthand. He was among the people who braved the dangers of rescuing others who were caught in the terrorist attack. Paul has never-before-seen footage that stretches over five hours, and 300 unpublished photos and interviews on Ground Zero. He wants to share these with the world, not to inflict more emotional distraught to the victims but to be a message of hope and communion. 

Paul shared, “I can humbly reveal that I am a 9/11 First Responder, who in effect gave his life trying to rescue others. Because of my efforts at the tragic site, I am now sick with a life-threatening respiratory disease that has so far killed hundreds of my fellow responders.” To him, it is high time that the priceless information he has in his possession be revealed to the world—as part of the country’s history.

New Yorkers always come together in time of needs, like the beautiful story of the film industry selflessly helping in ground zero by donating generator lights,  grip stands, cable, and local #52 IATSE motion picture studio mechanics. Along with local 817 IBT, theatrical teamsters did the very same thing that they do each and every day on a movie set: lighting the pile so that the firefighters could see at night to save lives. 

They say experiences are your best teachers. This is true to Paul’s life—both in the tragedy and his early years. He spent his teenage years behind bars, and it would seem that Paul had nothing but a bad record. However, he persevered, motivated himself, and found a purpose for his life as a filmmaker and entrepreneur. Paul is the CEO and founder of Up In Harlem LLC, a filmmaking company in the States. Paul grew to be a reputable filmmaker in the entertainment industry because of the knowledge he gained while collaborating with other filmmakers. According to Paul, he learned to create movies by observing the careers of many big directors in the industry. 

He became part of the production of a myriad of films, including Straight Out of Brooklyn, Boomerang, One Fine Day, Conspiracy Theory, Men in Black, and First Wives Club, among others. He’s held correspondent positions in television programs like New York Under Cover, Sopranos, Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: SVU, and The Week in Review. Paul also worked with notable personalities in the media like director Matty Rich, Bob Slade, Bob Pickett, Peter Noel, James Mtume, and Charles “The Cut Man” Etheridge.

Paul uses the learning and experiences he has amassed to lead Up in Harlem LLC. He is now partnering with the incredible Ice-T for an upcoming independent film Up In Harlem, an urban action film about a family struggling to survive the ghetto.

The 180-degree turn Paul took has gained him a highly esteemed career, an up-and-coming company, and vital records for the country’s most talked-about event. He is ready to partner with any company or producer to produce a docuseries containing all of his footage, photographs, and interviews.

In all of Paul’s experiences, he always looks up and thanks God for it. He knows that nothing would be possible without the Man behind all Creation. For Paul, without the protecting hands of God, he wouldn’t have made it out alive back in 9/11. But here he is—with life, a passion, and a mission. “I hope my experience will inspire others to do the same, and more. The message I am sending is that you put God first in everything you do; he will help you take a positive step in the right direction. Trust me on this, I am the perfect example of redemption in action,” Paul concluded.

For more information about Paul Eliacin, visit his website and follow his YouTube and IMDB pages. Get in touch with him through his email, or his Instagram (@paulee_paul).