Monthly Archives: July 2020

My new addiction….south-western style purses from COWGIRL BLING WESTERN BOUTIQUE!

Several weeks ago, I started seeing posts on Facebook from a Texas-based boutique featuring stunning (and very affordable) purses, totes and fashion accessories featuring hand-tooled leathers, fringes and the most exquisite south-western Native American woven fabric designs.  I watched online as business owner Hannah Leib presented her own QVC-like live showcase of a variety of purses and totes…and I was hooked! RaeHaving grown up with horses & ponies in Western Australia (at least that was as western as I could get as a kid), I’ve always wanted to be a cowgirl and each year when I visit Arizona, I get pretty close to my dream. Now, thanks to some inspired purchases from Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique, I can live the Annie Oakley life here in downtown Toronto via my fashion accessories.

I recently spoke with Hannah and asked her to share her story….

Congratulations on your new website, CowgirlBlingWestern.com, where anyone who loves south-western style can find gorgeous purses, totes, wallets and accessories. What inspired you to launch this fashion business?  Thank you! I was recruited to join the Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique a little over a month ago. The whole thing was brought about by happy circumstances, and I was just lucky enough to have met the right people and be available at the right time! The business has been exclusively an online boutique with sales being conducted through Facebook lives. We decided that a positive shift for the business would be to offer a website where customers could shop at their leisure or review a product that had been shown on the Facebook live. Wrangler Photo Shoot (2)How do you find and choose the purses you carry? Are they all American designed and made?  Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique has carried a variety of products, but we are currently focusing on western designed purses, wallets, clutches, etc. that are produced by the company, American Darling. Western fashion dates back to the early settlers who explored the southwestern United States. While we have modernized western elements, we are committed to providing high quality and affordable pieces all across North America.HarlowShimmerCodi WalletI understand you were a Rodeo Queen – for which State and what were your official duties?  I was honored to represent the Evergreen State as Miss Rodeo Washington 2019. State titleholders travel around the country and within their state to help educate the public and promote the sport of rodeo and western industries. When schools were in session it was not uncommon to have a presentation from a local titleholder, see a friendly queen doing a hospital visit, or greeting guests at westerns events. As a rodeo queen we wear many hats so to speak, but my favorite way to combine my passion for education and my love for rodeo was through my platform: #HatsAndHearts – Promoting Rodeo and Agriculture One Hat and One Heart at a Time. I was able to cultivate educational presentations, videos, and connections during my year as Miss Rodeo Washington that I took with me to the Miss Rodeo America stage last December in Las Vegas, NV. It was an honor to walk away as 1st Runner Up and open a new chapter in my life.MRW 19.Has that rodeo royalty honor inspired or heightened your fashion sense and your new business?   Oh my gosh, my style has totally changed! I never wore styles that were “out of the box” before, but that is all a thing of the past now. My favorite part about western fashion is that you really can’t make a mistake. There is so much texture in the patterns, products, and styles which offer more variety in the day to day that you simply cannot get from other fashion genres.KaylaTell us about your horses?  And have you sought out matching bags and saddle blankets for your customers?  I have three horses: Willis, Tater, and Moose. They are all different colors, sizes, and they all have different jobs however each horse’s personality is very distinct. I like to pick out a color that best suits a horse’s color and attitude, and it’s easy for that to carryover to helping my customers. Being able to help find products that best bring out their personal style and attitude is really the biggest perk! MRW 19You’re located in Texas – can Canadians purchase your bags and accessories? Absolutely! We’re able to ship internationally and our website offers shipping options so that customers from all over can choose their preferred shipping method.at the post office (2)Do you plan on expanding the brand, adding more items to the catalogue?  We’re definitely planning to expand the product selection! Our big focus in the coming months is to find unique western jewelry and fun graphic tees. We are open to suggestions and mainly want to provide the best customer experience we can!turquoise earringsHow can people follow you on social media?  The best way to see what’s new is to follow our Facebook page (Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique) and to follow us on Instagram. If you want to see what items we currently have in stock and ready to ship today just visit: www.cowgirlblingwestern.com

Thanks, Hannah, and I hope all my fashionista friends visit your website and find their own fabulous cowgirl bling!  This past week I purchased a few more items as Christmas pressies for friends and family and my own latest prized purse from Cowgirl Bling Western Boutique is this stunning orange design (below) which is perfect for brightening up a grey Toronto winter’s day.
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MEET KIT LANG: CO-WRITER/PRODUCER & STAR OF “BATTLE SCARS” FEATURE FILM COMING SOON TO A SCREENING PLATFORM NEAR YOU!

10+ years ago during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, I met a young up-and-coming actor, Christopher “Kit” Lang, in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel where I always set up shop during the festival meeting actors, filmmakers, the money men and media reps from around the world. I remember Kit’s enthusiasm and excitement for being part of the annual schmooze-fest and over the years since then, I’ve watched his career progress through shorts, tv appearances and now as star of a major feature film, Battle Scars.Kit blueThe handsome actor transforms himself to play the war-weary Michael Delucca, a Vietnam vet who’s trying to cope with PTSD amidst a troubled and violent civilian life – checkout the trailer on the website: www.BattleScarsthemovie.com  I had the pleasure of chatting with Kit who shared his thoughts on the film, and taking on co-writing and co-producing roles as well as acting.

Congratulations on your inspired performance as Mike DeLucca in Battle Scars – from what past experiences or influences did you draw on to portray DeLucca’s intense internal struggles?   Thank you so much. In short, for me, research was an absolute must. What do I know about being a combat veteran? I was fortunate to have our director, Sam, a combat veteran himself,  to guide me through that. In particular spending time with Veterans and visiting the Fort Hamilton Veteran’s Hospital was instrumental.Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 2_45_03 PMDid you and your fellow actors have to endure “boot camp” or any other bonding experience in order to make the battle scenes seem authentic? Ha ha…yes we did actually…of sorts. We were driven to upstate New York, led into the woods with very minimal gear (it rained!) and for four days we had to “survive”, build a shelter, go on mock patrols, and various training “war-like” scenarios, do a fire watch every night (taking turns staying awake and alert while the others slept) and so on. It was absolutely a great bonding experience. And it’s amazing how close we all got in such a short period of time.14054901_1079885625399702_8534525803781222453_nYour performance as the PTSD-afflicted Mike may trigger memories for real-life Vets in the audience – any advice how to be on guard when watching the film if a viewer suffers his own PTSD flashbacks or issues? Actually, no I don’t. But you raise an important point and question. I think PTSD is such a misunderstood, invisible disease that it’s not easy to fit neatly into a box. It’s very different for everybody, and I feel truly honored to be a part of telling this story and helping raise awareness of this mental health issue. That being said, the feedback we’ve received from Vets is that this film, if anything, is very therapeutic for them, so stick with it… But if anything was to trigger a PTSD attack, what I can say is having witnessed this myself and it working well: just pause the film, walk away and get some air, then come back to it when you’re ready.107036104_579583282951131_1585574476818428294_nYou also pulled off some sensitive, intimate romantic scenes in the film – what do you enjoy most as an actor, the challenges of a brutal shoot ‘em up scene or the love scenes…and why?  Thank you, I appreciate that. I think any actor will tell you that romantic scenes are the most challenging and difficult. Most of the time you’re having to work with someone you’ve never met before, complete strangers! And then you have to create this believable intimacy. It’s really, really difficult. But it also comes with the territory, just part of the job. I’ve been fortunate to work with fantastic actors and that makes the work so much easier. But action is actually much, much easier to perform and more fun, too! Haa haa14045765_1077570962297835_6578143147299403050_nYou’re also co-writer and co-producer on Battle Scars – what was the most difficult or challenging job and why?  There’s so much to unpack here, but in a sentence, I’d say as a writer: The most difficult part was really nailing the voice and message of PTSD. It took a lot of research and work, as it should, to figure out the best way we could embed it into the story.

As a producer: I’d say the most challenging job for me as a producer was simply producing, period. Shout out to every indie filmmaker out there. It’s a VERY difficult job. And you’re having to constantly troubleshoot. I remember one shoot day for instance – we unfortunately fell behind in our schedule and we were about to lose a whole scene, but we realized we had a second camera, so we decided we could split the crew into two units and get what we needed. Coming up with solutions, that’s the job. And it’s VERY hard to do non-stop, but well worth it! I think. You have to be crazy enough and love movies enough to do this.facebook_1593761671169_6684720952432404925What’s next for actor Kit or writer Kit?I’m working on an English/Spanish horror-romance film shot and set in Mexico. We were set to resume filming but we’re still waiting for Covid to subside down there, hopefully soon!

Thanks, Kit, for sharing your experiences and thoughts on portraying this troubled character. Due to Covid-19 cinema closures, the film will not be enjoying it’s originally planned theatrical release, however, Battle Scars is available for DVD sales from Walmart & Amazon as of July 21st (you can pre-order now via the film’s Facebook page – see link bottom of web home page) and will be available for online viewing/streaming August 4th, 2020.  THANKS FOR SUPPORTING INDIE FILM!

https://battlescarsthemovie.com/

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RIVETING VIETNAM WAR-ERA MOVIE DEALING WITH PTSD LAUNCHES ONLINE DURING COVID CINEMA SHUT-DOWNS.

I’m thrilled to welcome filmmakers SAMUEL GONZALEZ JR. and CHRISTOPHER “KIT” LANG to the Fordham PR client roster.  Their feature film BATTLE SCARS launches online via Amazon Prime July 21st with DVD sales orders already available from Walmart. The film will be available with wider online release starting August 4th, 2020 (Vudu, iTunes, Google, etc.).

As Covid-19 has forced cinemas to close or restrict audience numbers, filmmakers around the world (esp. indie filmmakers) have been forced to shelve projects or, like Sam and Chris, find other opportunities to screen their films. Thanks to the dedication of cast and crew, and the support of family and friends, the filmmakers have managed to bring Battle Scars into your home via multi-platform streaming outlets, delivering its message about the horrors of war and its ongoing human toll from PTSD.

Vietnam took everything he had…now he’s taking it all back!107046776_763218854485241_4205911393826522464_nVietnam war veteran, Michael Delucca (Christopher “Kit” Lang) suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and struggles to resist the dark memories of his frontline experiences shared with best friend Vinny (Arturo Castro) that haunt him. Estranged from the post-war everyday life around him, working a steady but low-paying job, and even with a supportive girlfriend Jane (Emily Trosclair) and the opportunity to reconnect with the son he never watched grow up, Michael sinks into a gritty underworld from which he may never return.

Written and directed by real-life decorated war veteran, Samuel Gonzalez Jr. (pictured below), Battle Scars depicts the insurmountable difficulties faced by thousands of soldiers after returning home with brutal authenticity.

gonzalez_picI had the opportunity of chatting with the director who shared his inspirations and on-set experiences with me….

Congratulations on bringing this story to the screen, Samuel. I gather you have first-hand experience being on the front lines in Iraq – did this inspire the story of Battle Scars and in what way?  All wars are different. And all wars are the same. My experience was different from the ones who fought in the jungle – as opposed to the large sandbox I ventured in to.  No, what inspired Battle Scars was being on the front lines of a war very much in our own backyards. Walking in New York City at night, I would see many veterans – every year growing in numbers – simply freezing to death on the streets. I wondered – how does one person who was born, had dreams, desires and passions of his/her own, end up like that? Once you dig a little to find that out, you’ll start seeing the real war is closer than you think.107767236_2750641465155149_7961340331678085522_nMany returned service men and women will likely view this film – do you think it may trigger memories and/or hope your film encourages them to reach out for help and support with their own PTSD?  A response in the form of awareness among veterans and civilians alike would be just what we’re hoping for. For Vietnam veterans and veterans of all foreign wars to remember that we are all united, not only through our shared service but through the invisible wounds we share – the invisible monsters we all bring back. PTSD. May this film be a beacon of light to bring us closer together to finally stitch it up.14054901_1079885625399702_8534525803781222453_nYou’ve undertaken a variety of on-set jobs from Sound, Camera & Electrical dept, Location mgmn’t, Cinematography and AD, as well as editing and acting. How has all this experience prepared you for directing and writing scripts?  Making this film was the ultimate film school experience. Literally discuss an idea, put it on paper (in our case, a dinner napkin), find the crew or slave labourers at that rate (ha ha!) and go out and put your vision through a camera lens – all for little to no money. If I can go back in time in a DeLorean (yes.. I went there) – is to stop this from happening and rip up that napkin and order the brisket instead. But, alas, the sirens went off and making the film was a war in itself – sacrifices were made and rough battles were won and lost in order to reach the beach. But ultimately it prepared me for the future – my continued career and how to properly manage a set and crew, take car of my actors and how to responsibly handle delicate subject matter as the one we discuss in our film. It taught me the right ways to do things and the wrong things that were done. Grateful for those wrongdoings, as the pitfalls of the film taught me how to handle those that were on the road ahead. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world and am thankful everyday for the experiences the film gave me and my team – it’s priceless and I am the filmmaker I am today because of it.  Director & castYou had a very modest budget on which to shoot Battle Scars – how did you manage to pull off the Vietnam up-county fire fight with such realism?  Thank you, it was very challenging. Sometimes it’s the limitations such as budget that force us to be at our most creative. Doing your best with what you have and that’s where I point the camera. We had to scout specific locations we thought could pass for the jungle. I think my experience helped me grab what I needed. I wanted to convey the chaos that war is.107377203_720954032027606_3389208399628510251_nIt’s so difficult to access audiences during the Covid shut-down, but with your digital viewing platforms do you think that home viewing is more advantageous, especially considering the intense intimate angst your lead character goes through on-screen? Viewers may feel more emotionally secure watching the film from their own sofa…yes? I think it comes down to connection. I believe any film is really meant to be experienced in the theater.  However, home entertainment systems get us pretty close. It’s a personal film, but film is meant to be communal. So if we have to watch the film separately, at least we can all connect online.

Have you already started thinking about your next project and if so, can you share any hints as to the subject? Are you planning something a little lighter? You think I’d learn but never lighter, never smaller. But I will say that my job as director is to serve the story. If the story is large, that let my vision enhance that in scale. If it’s small, then I will paint with mightier strokes but still on a large canvas. Many projects in the making and new releases coming soon. In the meantime, you can order my published novel titled THE CHORDS OF WAR – a semi-autobiographical true story of 5 soldiers who form a rock’n’roll band during the height of the Iraq war, ultimately using music to inspire and motivate thousands of troops and to get them home alive. Acclaimed show runner Graham Yost (Band of Brothers, Justified, The Pacific) opens the book with a rave review and discussion. My next feature film, a psychological horror film, is currently in production as I type this, and my latest short film The Springfield Three, the true story of one Americas most bizarre and unexplained disappearances, has won multiple festival awards after screening at Screamfest 2019. It has also been picked up for worldwide distribution, having its television premiere this October on SHORTS TV (the distributor for all the theatrical released academy award winning short films.) Thank you for your continued support, Glenda!

Battle Scars will be available for viewing online as of July 21st via Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, GooglePlay. Orders for DVD sales are already available from Walmart & Amazon, with wider release as of August 4th, 2020.

Check out movie trailers and cast & crew info at www.BattleScarsthemovie.com and follow on Instagram @MovieBattleScars and       www.facebook.com/moviebattlescarspromo ad