An interview with :

Nicole Alonso and Oklahoma Ward

DGE : It’s been around a while now since Crawl or Die was first released and from the reviews I`ve read it seems to have been a huge hit worldwide. Silly question I guess but how pleased are you with how the movie has been received?

Nicole : Immensely pleased! It’s been so humbling and amazing getting to hear all the fans react to the film! I love getting messages from fans telling me how much they connected with TANK and how she inspires them in some way - that to me has been the best part. Growing up - I was VERY inspired by strong women in films (i.e. Ripley, Sarah Connor, Lara Croft, etc), and it led me to pursue my dreams. The fact that I could possibly inspires someone in that way - that is so rewarding.

Oklahoma : It’s been amazing. One starts this process of wanting to make a film - and then you very work hard for multiple years putting it all together. The idea - script - pre-production - casting - set build - film - post production… and truth is you never know for sure what you have until it’s all done. You hope - you believe… but the real answer comes when the movie hits the public. Once our movie finally got in the public’s hand and the emails/fan’s love and support started to roll in - it felt wonderful. It truly did and does. Every single day a new fan reaches out to us and pushes us for the sequel. It’s been grand. I mean that. Grand!

DGE : Where did the original idea for Crawl or Die come from? I can take a guess and say that you have been influenced by other movies so if so, which?

Oklahoma : The movie does had influences - Barry Lyndond/The Great Escape/Alien/Hitchcock and many many others. What I learned from all those movies - and may others is I love movies that are claustrophobic - use natural lighting - creative settings and hinge on tension from real human fears - sound and what you can’t see more than what you can see.

DGE : I`ve read elsewhere that this movie was self-funded. How long did it take to get raise the funds needed and how difficult was it?

Nicole : In total - it took Oklahoma and I about 5 years from the day the script was written to the day of release. It was a long journey, but when you don’t have money - it just takes time. It was worth it, though. You just have to buckle down and enjoy the process.

Oklahoma : As Nicole said - 5 years. The process taught me what I already knew - money does not make a movie better or worse - what money does buy you is time. Since we had none - we had to hand build the sets - hell we had to build everything ourselves. If i had access to money the set build time would have been only sixty to ninety days. But - pro’s and con’s to having access to money - money comes at cost and that cost is usually control of the movie and how it is filmed and cast and the edit. So - it’s a balance act - if you want to make your movie and stay true to your exact vision - you don’t want studio money. If you don’t mind giving up a lot of control and want to work with many chiefs in the kitchen - then money is available. It all comes down to what type of director one is.

DGE : Now Crawl or Die is a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare - was it difficult therefore to find actors that were OK with issues such as claustrophobia?

Nicole : We were very clear in the audition process that if an actor had ANY issues with claustrophobia or tights spaces that this would NOT be the role for them, so for the most part we were able to find cast whom were ok with it. We did have an issue with one actor who thought they could handle the tunnels, but unfortunately had to be recast.

Oklahoma : I feel so. I was very upfront with how grueling this movie would be. The same can be said for the sequel - in fact the sequel will be much harder on the actors. While I was talking with a few of the studios that were interested in the sequel based off the success of Crawl or Die - the studios kept bringing up larger named actors for certain roles - when I replied that I’m fine with that as long as those actors understand they will be crawling in real tunnels with real dirt and a grueling shooting schedule - the studio sat down with large eyes. My preference - give me an actor that is willing to throw themselves into the battle along with the rest of the crew over actors wanting an air conditioned trailer and stand-ins for the crawling scenes any day of the week. I love actors that get dirty for the roles they believe in - I’m not interested in working with the other types.

DGE : As for the tunnels, how real where they? Or should I say, where they really as long as we see on screen? Perhaps by answering this question it could spoil the fun for your viewers!

Nicole : The tunnels were all 100% real! They were approximately 50 feet in length with no cut-outs or escape hatches, so the only way out was to, well, CRAWL! We could cut someone out in an emergency, but that would have taken about 20 minutes.

Oklahoma : They were real. They were scary. They were dirty. They were claustrophobic. In the end they were safe - I always make sure my actors are safe - but make no mistake - 100% real.

DGE : Crawl or Die is just the first part of a Trilogy - can I ask but where are you at with a sequel? Is there any inside news you can share with our readers?

Nicole : I can tell you we are moving forward with the sequel and plan to start pre-production later this year. I’ll let Oklahoma decide what other details he wishes to share. He likes to keep things TOP SECRET - even from me. I often know nothing about the story, etc. until the script is in my hand.

Oklahoma : The sequel takes a tad more traditional storyline arc - we get way more background on all the characters etc - but once the crap hits the fan - it’s balls to the wall visual tension in the sequel. What can one expect from the sequel - live tarantulas, water and yes - TANK and the Creature meet head on this time. A battle royal. The ending is a shocker - and the only hint I can give on that is thus - “ Only the good die young!” by Billy Joel is a great song.

DGE : This next question is for Nicole - The role of Tank seemed quite tough at times, did you have to participate in any special training to help you?

Nicole : I definitely put in a ton of gym time in preparation to play TANK. I knew the role would be physically demanding and wanted to be as prepared as possible for that aspect. I worked out 6-7 days a week religiously - lots of heavy weights and muscle training. Looking back - I probably could have used some more cardio and a lot more practice squat walking! haha. I did get to do all my own stunts which was really fun and challenging! We had a great stunt team that always made me feel safe - even when hanging upside down crawling down a wall. It’s my goal in my career to always do my own stunts - if Tom Cruise can do it - so can I! :)

DGE : I believe you also watched movies such as Alien and Terminator to help give Tank some character as both these movies have female leads.

Nicole : I did! Oklahoma gave me a list of several movies to watch and study the female leads. Alien, Terminator 2, G.I. Jane, Domino, High Tension to name a few. I found Ripley to be the most helpful in terms of how Oklahoma and I discussed TANK being portrayed. She’s not Rambo, she’s not a man, she’s human and she’s a woman. So she has emotions and she struggles and she’s not perfect, BUT - she’s tough as nails. Tank will never quit and I felt that her humanity and her raw toughness and never-say-die attitude had to come through. In this aspect I related most to Ripley. She was a normal woman thrust into an impossible, horrible situation, but she keeps fighting and doesn’t give up.

DGE : As for Tanks haircut - for me it is now an iconic image that is instantly recognizable. As soon as you see any screen grabs you know which movie they are from. Was this your natural style or was it something thought up just for the movie?

Nicole : I have to give all the credit to Oklahoma for that. It was his idea from the beginning that he wanted TANK to be instantly recognizable and have this badass iconic hair. It was one of the first things he told me when he offered me the part - that I’d have to get a mohawk. My hair was super long - down to my lower back, but I was just so excited about this character that I didn’t hesitate at all. I think my first words were “HELL YEAH!” haha. There’s a video on my youtube channel of the day I got it shaved.

DGE : For Oklahoma - Crawl or Die seemed to be a big project from the get-go as you not only wrote the story but you also directed and produced it as well as put your hand to other parts of the movie. Just how difficult is it to do all of this on your own or with just Nicole helping you along the way?

Oklahoma : It’s tough as in it’s a lot of work. A lot. But truthfully - I’ve done every odd job in the world - pouring concrete on large construction jobs is way way tougher - or being locked in a 9 to 5 job that I hated was way more grueling. I love making movies. I love every aspect of it. I wouldn’t change my job for anything in the world. Anything.

DGE : To me, Crawl or Die seems perfectly fine the way it is but if you could go back, is there anything you would change?

Oklahoma : No. Not really. I wish I had a little more time on the creature and the set build - I only had two weeks to make the creature and film the creature - a little more time to fine tune that would have been nice. I’ll have that opportunity on the sequel though.

DGE : For the both of you - do you have any particular preferences when it comes to movie tastes? Crawl or Die seems to fall into the sci-fi and possibly horror genres.

Nicole : I personally love horror/sci-fi films - particularly ones with strong women in them. I think it stemmed from rebellion because when I was young - my Mom would never let me watch horror movies or anything that wasn’t exactly age appropriate. I had to wait until I was 13 to watch PG-13 and so forth. So once I was finally 17 - I began DEVOURING horror movies left and right. I couldn’t get enough of them - something about them being “forbidden fruit” for so long I guess. But really - I can get into anything that has great acting. Brando, Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, Kidman, Keitel, Chastain etc. - sign me the fuck up. lol

Oklahoma : I’ll watch anything. Pick any genre and I’ll find something I love within that genre. Simply put I love movies. I will say I tend to lean towards movies that ground themselves in gritty realism. I’m not the biggest fan of movies that camp things up. I like gritty dirty sweaty hardcore acting and an overall tone of this could really be happening. With that said - I love Young Frankenstein.

DGE : And again, for the both of you, if you could, which movie(s) would you love to remake, if given the chance to do so?

Nicole : Oh gosh - remakes get such a bad rap now a days. It seems you can’t even say that word without people cringing and ready to hate on it. I don’t mind them one way or the other. If I’m being honest - currently I’m really just focused on making original stories/content and creating new characters. All the movies I really love - I would never want to tackle a remake because I feel they were done so well already. Just a personal preference. But never say never, right? If the right role came along and I felt I could really bring something new and unique to the part - I’d consider it.

Oklahoma : I don’t think I would ever remake a movie - unless it was my own movie.

DGE : Quick fire question : How would you both sum up Crawl or Die in one sentence?

Nicole : An intensely claustrophobic, tension filled, female dominated horror/sci-fi film!

Oklahoma : Claustrophobic, gritty, tense and full of hardcore acting!

DGE : Finally, apart from Crawl or Die, what else have you both planned for the near future?

Nicole : Currently all of my focus is on part 2 in the trilogy. Of course there are projects I’d love to work on down the line - after the trilogy I’d like to branch out from the horror genre and do something completely different. But, getting the next CRAWL OR DIE film done is top priority. ;)

Oklahoma : The Crawl or Die video game and graphic novel. Other than that - after finishing the trilogy — a 1980’s music filled muscle car street racing movie - a rated R Star Trek type movie - an original werewolf movie done right and a throwback Christmas movie done claymation ala Rudolph ;-)


Crawl or Die (2014)

Synopsis (IMDB) : An elite security team assigned the task of protecting the last known woman who can become pregnant, find themselves caught in an endless claustrophobic underground tunnel system.

Directed by : Oklahoma Ward

Written by : Oklahoma Ward

Cast :  Nicole Alonso, Torey Byrne, Tommy Ball, Wil Crown, David Wilde, Tom Chamberlain, Clayton Burgess, Matthew Stephen Crabtree

My Rating :

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