A New Spin on the Classic Western Movie Trobe
The western film as we know it today dates back to 1903, with the first recorded western movie titled The Great Train Robbery. Fast forward 120 years since that first cowboy flick, and “the western” is still a popular genre of storytelling with a modern interpretation like Disney’s The Mandalorian. But, of course, the fundamental concepts stay the same whether you set your western in 1880 or in a galaxy far far away.
You need an antagonist dressed in black, a protagonist with a quick wit and faster draw, and of course, a fast horse. Finding a new way to tell a familiar story can be challenging, but film director Jeremy Heslup with Valkyr Productions have done so with their latest project, The Gunslinger (2022).
This five-minute-long film takes the viewer on a feature-length experience on the American Frontier with the aid of a 592-hp V12 Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Its black powder against horsepower in the chase for gold and justice.
The Gunslinger (2022), Directed by Jeremy Heslup
Set in a small mining town in late 1800s Montana, a gang of armed bandits has taken over. The local saloon gal, Isabel, watches in horror as violence sweeps over her town like a fog. Sensing the evitable, she sends a message to a gunfighter of few words but many bullets.
When the gang plucks the town’s stockpile of gold from its iron nest, Isabel takes arms and stands her ground against the gang’s leader, a man in a black hat. But, before you can say Mexican stand-off, the ground begins to tremble as the sound of approaching thunder echoes over the horizon.
Itchy trigger fingers pause in fear at the sudden roar of 592 horses stampeding in perfect synergy into town. Then, in a grandiose entrance, a black badged Rolls-Royce Cullinan storms into the center of town, spooking the bandits as they flee with sacks of gold stuffed in saddle bags. Stepping out of the V12-powered stagecoach is the gunfighter. Isabel wastes no time riding shotgun with a lever-action rifle in hand.
The two heroes give chase in their black badge V12-powered steel thoroughbred on dusty trails, over photogenic hills, and across crystal clear rivers in the Montana wilderness. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan steals every scene as it pursues the thieving bandits at full gallop, proving that it’s more than a super land yacht as it brushes dirt, gravel, and mud off its 22-inch wheels.
A Nugget of Cinematic Gold
Filming a great western movie takes more than a horse and sepia filter. Valkyr shot the period correct locations seen in The Gunslinger at Yellowstone Film Ranch, located near Livingston, Montana. This place provides an ideal setting for media productions in need of capturing the American Frontier on film.
Valkyr’s production quality on this film is nothing short of professional. Watching the Behind-the-Scenes video on the film gives you a sense of the logistical scope that Jeremy Heslup and his team undertook. Costumes, travel, actors, props, original music, and securing the hero-car from Rolls-Royce all needed to come together for the film to be completed, which was shot in less than a week. The finished product offers the viewer cinematography that rivals multi-million-dollar budgets.
Moreover, the film stays true to being an authentic western. Certain scenes can be taken as homage or direct inspiration from all-time classics like Sergio Leone’s iconic Dollars trilogy. The lack of dialog, for example, and allowing the eyes to do all the talking, made me think of the pages of unspoken scripts between Charles Bronson and Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The actor’s face becoming a character of their own is a classic Leone trademark.
In addition, Heslup’s extensive experience filming high-speed automotive content shows how the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge comes across on the screen. As an automotive journalist, I’m amazed that Rolls-Royce loaned Jeremy a Black Badge Cullinan to kick up dirt in Montana for several days.
Ask any automotive writer or influencer, and they’ll tell you that Rolls-Royce keeps a tight grip on their key fobs – as they should.
On a related side note, the concept of a modern vehicle chasing down cowboys in an old west setting is a captivating idea and one that should be studied further.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge Stagecoach
The real star of the film is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge. The hero luxury stagecoach storms onto the screen with all-wheel drive and a gleaming black-chromed grille. The Black Badge is technically considered a performance package within the expanding Rolls-Royce variant lineup.
Apart from an added shadow of curb appeal, the package bumps the Cullinan’s V12 brawn from 563 to 592 horsepower and updates the suspension to handle its increased power output.
More notably, the Black Badge drapes over the Cullinan’s trim in a shadow of black chrome that includes the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. The appearance side of its performance package is topped off with a set of 22-inch black chrome wheels, a Black Badge exclusive.
The theme continues inside with Technical Carbon trim, unique trim options, and a bespoke Starlight headliner, which has a memorable cameo in the film.
It’s Highway Cowboy Approved
As a fan of both film and cars, I commend Jeremy Heslup and the entire production crew for their work on The Gunslinger. In an era where Hollywood is leaning heavily on politically influenced flashy nostalgia over originality, it’s refreshing to see independent filmmakers like Heslup being able to produce quality work without a blank check from a streaming service.
However, to justify a new project, he needs support where it matters most, viewership.
Every artist needs an audience. So, click the link and watch Jeremy Heslups’ short film The Gunslinger on YouTube.