John Luessenhop was born and raised in Virginia and attended the University of Virginia, where he obtained his BA degree in drama. During his summer breaks, John attended film school at both NYU and UCLA, where he fine-tuned his cinema palette and sharpened his eye for filmmaking. Although films were his passion, the Virginia-raised young man struggled to reconcile his Hollywood dream as a realistic career path. He made the decision to attend law school at Georgetown University and after, worked in securities litigation for six years. Still feeling that Hollywood was his true calling, John continued to write and produce films behind the scenes and when a partnership at a prestigious law firm was offered to him, he turned it down to embark on a career as a director.
His short film TICK…TICK…TICK… played at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, and won best short subject film at the Florida Film Festival. John soon began directing episodes of America’s Most Wanted, and half of the HBO feature Don’t Look Back, starring Eric Stoltz and Billy Bob Thornton. When Luessenhop was offered 2000's independent prison drama Lockdown, he jumped at the chance to direct this film and stake his claim in Hollywood for good. Starring Gabriel Casseus, the film struck a strong chord with urban audiences, opening the UrbanWorld Film Festival in New York City and closing the Hollywood Black Film Festival in Los Angeles.
John’s breakthrough performance as a director came in 2008 when he directed Takers for Sony/Screen Gems, a film about a team of seasoned bank robbers that enlisted a star-studded cast which included Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, Grammy winning music-talent Chris Brown, and rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris. Author Stephen King, in his end of the year Entertainment Weekly column, listed the film at #5 of his best films of 2010.
Texas chainsaw 3D by John Luessenhop - 2013
Takers by John Luessenhop - 2010
Lockdown by John Luessenhop - 2000