Redress: Jayson Johnson’s Directorial Debut with Racially Charged Film


Celai West, the child actress in Jayson Johnson’s ‘Redress’, does her part for goodness. Photo courtesy of J. Johnson.

Filmmaker Jayson Johnson is set to make his directorial debut with “Redress,” beginning December 27. The film centered with a racial twist, is a dream come true for Johnson, who says he practiced working on six projects prior to releasing “Redress.”

The film deals with loss and tragedy when Jake, a Caucasian family man, loses his wife and child to an African-American drunk driver. Jake then falls into a deep depression after a liberal judge lets the offender off with two charges of vehicular manslaughter. A chance encounter with a Neo-Nazi bartender results in him being brainwashed and seeking the ultimate revenge and the films explores how racism develops and rages out of control.

Johnson who holds a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University says he’s always been mesmerized by storytelling and was “lucky” to have the opportunity to work for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Films. “Redress” is his leap of faith. “This is the first film I’ve had the confidence to release,” he said. The collaboration of over 20 people representing various racial backgrounds, leaves Johnson feeling “proud to have had such great help on the project.”

Jayson Johnson

Edited in Tel Aviv, Johnson says his biggest challenges while producing the film were financial and during post-production he relied on a lot of favors. “I still can’t explain how the right person at the right time came out to help on this project. I was certainly blessed.”

Given the era of Trump, Johnson feels now is a good time to discuss race in America. “With outrages like Oscar Grant, Michael Brown and others coupled with the election of Trump, race and other issues have been thrust into the spotlight. This is a great time for open dialogue.”

In preparation for the project, Johnson says he watched a documentary on how neo-Nazis are recruited in rural Alabama. “In most cases, the recruits weren’t initially racist but adopted the racist beliefs the longer they were part of they were part of the group.”

Johnson hopes to portray how confused and angry people are recruited to hate groups and insight on how racism develops. And he’s also drawn one main conclusion; “Racism comes from somewhere, racism is taught.”

Johnson’s next project is on the milder side of life – a feature-length romantic comedy set between Oakland and San Francisco. “The film also has commentary on second chances, gentrification and the economic impact of the tech industry.”

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