Pistols at dawn

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Director of The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, Tiller Russell, tells EIFF which of his cast and crew members would survive in a good ol'-fashioned Wild West showdown.

First off, congrats on The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, it really is a western like no other! What was the inspiration for the story?

Tiller Russell: Thank you, we’re stoked to be in Edinburgh. This is a fantastic city and an amazing festival. We are grateful to be here and look forward to coming back. Initially the film came to me as a series of dreams. I’d been shooting a music video for the legendary Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard and I came to him with visions of Juliette, Ransom, opium-smoking Siamese twins and a sawed-off shotgun-toting dwarf. Together we unravelled the strange imagery and sat down to write the screenplay.

Were you ever worried about how it would play out, putting a new spin on the genre?

TR: We’d seen genre films re-imagined with the likes of Sin City (re-invigorating the noir picture) and 300 (offering a cool new spin on the sword-and-sandal flick), and we thought that if we could inject the western with some punk rock comicbook style piss-and-vinegar something exciting might happen. Of course, we are drawing inspiration from the greats of the genre including Peckinpah, Leone and Corbucci and marinating them in the stylised visuals of the graphic novel. And then when Kristofferson signed on, we thought hell, this just might work…

How did you manage to get such a strong ensemble cast?

TR: We were very fortunate that the material attracted a ragtag band of brilliant actors, including old school icons like Dwight Yoakam and Kris Kristofferson, as well as firebrand up-and-comers like Lizzy Caplan, Jon Foster and Cote de Pablo. When we were lucky enough to round it out with an unrecognizable Jason Priestley and the inimitable Peter Dinklage, things really got interesting. Having the opportunity to work with such an eclectic and amazing cast was on of the great gifts of making (and hopefully watching) this film.

How have you managed to create such a huge online buzz for the movie pre-launch?

TR: Again, we were fortunate enough to work with a brilliant group of collaborators. Including our editors, web and graphics designer, and mavens of the digital underground. Basically, we created a series of character teasers and asked the actors to promote and release them via social networking sites and on the web. Then we asked for collaborations from the audience in creating songs, t-shirts, comic books and posters inspired by the movie. And we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of artistry and support that followed.

Who was the best gunslinger of the cast and crew?

TR: My wife, Jessie. And my partner and producer, Duncan Montgomery. I’d hate to witness a shootout between those two. Nor would I miss a Yoakam/Dinklage showdown for anything in the world.

If you've got your finger on the trigger, buy tickets for The Last Rites of Ransom Pride here.

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