The Gunslinger: Q&A with Director Jeremy Heslup

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

Behind the wheel of an “all-powerful stagecoach,” a dead shot gunslinger teams up with a brave saloon girl to rescue a besieged frontier town from the grips of a villainous gang, led by a nefarious man in black. This is the premise of 'The Gunslinger', a fun-filled, not-so-traditional western created by Valkyr Productions to showcase the Rolls Royce Cullinan. Brand Storytelling caught up with Valkyr founder and director Jeremy Heslup to learn more about what went into making the film and his position on brands telling narrative-driven stories:

What was the impetus for making this film?

We wanted to make a hybrid narrative short with a commercial angle, something that captured both the western genre and positioned the product (a car in this case) as a character within the ensemble cast.

The Cullinan was the only choice as, being the pinnacle of modern luxury, it is so far removed from the desolate nature of the old west, yet still very capable as an off-road stagecoach that we needed our hero to pilot.

Why a short film?

Short films have a very clear beginning, middle and end. They can be very thought provoking and layered to the max. In this case we wanted to make the most out of our time on set and it felt right to tell this story in this format, as opposed to a 30-60 second. There’s too much going on for it to be that brief.

We believe that the future of advertising is capturing sustained human emotion, as people are wise and are getting more and more burnt out on junk food ads that don’t commit to anything and expect to create net promoters just by showing them shiny images…we wanted more than that for this.

What inspirations were drawn on when putting the film together?

Westworld for sure. It had the right mixture of modern elements and old west. Treating it with strong tropes was the only way to get away with inserting the anachronism that is a modern car in the old west.

We also pulled from 3:10 to Yuma for the Man in Black and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the very classic and stately Sergio Leone / Ennio Morricone vibes.

Who was tapped to play the various roles in the film?