LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Oklahoma Ward And Nicole Alonso Director And Star Of Crawl Or Die
By James Whittington, Monday 13th July 2015
Oklahoma Ward’s much-praised movie Crawl Or Die is to receive its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel on Friday 17th at 10.55pm. This alien-monster shocker takes claustrophobia to new heights and depths in its futuristic depiction of a rescue mission through a maze of ever-shrinking tunnels. The undoubted star of this indie genre hit is Nicole Alonso who plays the unstoppable ‘TANK’, a mohawk-sporting warrior who’d give Arnie a run for his money.
Ahead of its eagerly-awaited showing in the UK, we spoke to the director and star, who just so happen to be real-life partners as well as running their own production company, Backyard Films.
HC: So, first of all, how pleased are you that the UK’s Horror Channel are screening the film?
NA: Oh, very pleased! We have gotten many UK fans asking us when/where they can see Crawl Or Die, I’m thrilled to finally be able to give them an answer!
OW: Greatly! Since the release of Crawl Or Die we are contacted every other day on social media by fans in the UK asking where they can see the movie. Excited that now we can proudly tell them where they can experience Crawl Or Die!
HC: Let’s rewind…how on earth did the ‘aliens in a tunnel’ idea come about?
OW: Two of some of my favourite movies scenes growing up were The Great Escape (escape tunnel digging scene) and the Aliens scene where Bishop goes into the small metal tunnel and starts crawling - that scene terrified me! The tunnel was so small I thought if Bishop runs into one of those aliens in that small tight tunnel - he’s got no room to fight! He’s dead. I was disappointed they cut away from that scene/scenario so quickly. When I sat down to write my trilogy I started with the character of TANK first. TANK and my respect/love for her is my main focus and reason for making the trilogy. I love everything about her. I then decided - now I’m going to put/test TANK in the worst scenario I could imagine - see if she is really as tough as I wanted her to be - and that was the spark that drove the idea of combining the tunnels from both of the movies mentioned above and thrusting TANK into them.
HC: How did you raise the finance?
OW: We saved up enough money over three years by giving up a car/living in garage/going out to dinner - taking vacations etc. During that time we managed to buy a cheap broken down home - take a half year and remodel that home and sell it for a small profit. Then we started building the Crawl Or Die set by hand. Day and night Nicole and I worked building the set by hand - which took us a year.
HC: Nicole, how did you prepare for the role?
NA: There was quite a bit that went into preparing to play Tank. I’d first say that I was pretty intimidated to take on the role as I am nothing like TANK in real life. I’m quite shy and reserved, so I knew it was going to take a lot of work to make this believable on my end. I spent a lot of time in the gym - 6 days a week. I knew the role would be physically demanding and I wanted to be as prepared for that as possible. Oklahoma gave me several movies to watch and study the characters in the films to get a good idea of how he saw TANK. Most notably and most helpful were Alien (Ripley), Terminator 2 (Sarah Conner), G.I. Jane (Jordan O’Neill) and Domino (Domino Harvey). I found all these women, while tough as nails, to still be human and still be WOMEN. They had emotion and fears and struggles, but what made them badass and tough was they kept going even when things seemed hopeless.
It was very important to Oklahoma and myself that TANK wasn’t just a one dimensional character. She’s not a guy - she’s not a robot - she’s not Rambo. She definitely struggles and isn’t prepared for the situation that she is thrown into - so we wanted all that to show. Her strength comes from the fact that she refuses to give up - no matter what. I also studied the online blogs of a few female marines to get some insight on what it’s like to be a woman in a male dominated field. Once the set was built and I had the script - I slept in the tunnels. I lived in those tunnels and I studied the script backwards and forwards to really get into who TANK was and what she was going through as she faced this horrible situation.
HC: Have you got any action movie heroes/heroines?
NA: Most definitely Ellen Ripley (Alien franchise) and Sarah Conner (Terminator franchise). Those women changed how I saw badass women in film and to this day are still my favorite. If you want a more recent reference - I really loved Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
OW: Tons - TANK would be my first hero - other than her, Ellen Ripley takes the prize. She’s real. She’s not a superhero. She’s tough. Determined. Strong willed - like TANK in Crawl Or Die.
HC: It’s been dubbed ‘the most claustrophobic film ever made’. Must have been hell filming it. Tell us your own horror stories…
NA: Personally I’m not claustrophobic. I used to get a kick out of seeing how small of a space I could squeeze into when playing hide and seek (dryers, cabinets, buckets, etc.). I just KNEW going in that I wouldn’t have any problem filming in the tunnels - boy was I mistaken. All of these tunnels were REAL tunnels (approximately 40-50 feet in length) with no cut outs or escape hatches. The only way out was to crawl out or wait for 45 mins while you were cut out. The smaller the tunnels got - the more difficult it became to spend time in there. There were some days in the dirt tunnel and the smallest metal tunnel that we were in there for hours at a time. It got very claustrophobic at times and became difficult to breathe. Luckily - all the actors and crew were troopers and we didn’t have any ‘incidents’, but there were definitely multiple times I had to stop, breathe, and tell myself I was going to be OK.
OW: Toughest part of filming the movie was - the tunnels were real. No escape hatches. Fifty feet long. If you got stuck you had to be cut out. Inside the tunnels were live spiders and scorpions crawling within them. That was always fun while filming. For me the toughest part of filming was near the end of the movie when only I and the actor Nicole Alonso could fit in the tunnels. The tunnels were so small it would take me thirty minutes to crawl into them - and then a battery on the camera would die and I’d have to crawl backwards out - grab a battery - crawl back in. At one point the tunnels was so small that even when I had extra batteries with me I had no room for my arms to reach back and grab them so I’d have to crawl out to put them in the camera. That was a gruelling fifteen day shooting scene.
HC: Is either of you two claustrophobic?
NA: Oops, guess I jumped the gun on this with my answer above. But, no - I’m not.
OW: Not at all. Although - one of my actors didn’t realize they were and by day three we had to let that actor go and find a replacement.
HC: Are you pleased with how the film has been received?
NA: Immensely pleased! Aside from filming the movie which is ALWAYS my favourite part of the process - hearing from all the fans has been the best thing ever! It’s blown my mind how much the fans and horror blogs have supported our film and gotten behind TANK! There is a hashtag on twitter called #TANKarmy and people just love this character. As an actor - there is nothing more rewarding than knowing a character you brought to life is connecting with fans. I get messages from women and men alike telling me how much TANK has inspired them in their lives, and I honestly can’t think of anything better.
OW: Absolutely! To make a movie - completely independent - with our own money - no contacts in Hollywood and receive over one hundred great reviews - have a global audience and a rabid ‘TANKarmy’ fan base that write us every other day telling us how much they love TANK and the movie - really is a dream come true! It’s been a five year journey with this movie on a budget that is below poverty level and we got it done and out. Pleases me every single day. Was it tough - hell yes it was tough - but the fans writing us from all over the world - that makes all the struggle worth every second it!
HC: Oklahoma Ward and Nicole Alonso thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Bill Watterson director of Dave Made a Maze
Posted on Sunday 4th November 2018
At Grimmfest 2017 we had the chance to view one of the most original pieces of cinema we'd seen in a long time, Dave Made a Maze. Directed by Bill Watterson it's an intelligent, thought-provoking film that deserves to reach a global audience and will be released here early 2019. We chatted to Bill about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did this concept come from?
WW: Three places: Steven was underway on a script called 'Operation: Death Maze,' or something cool like that. Portions of it were re-purposed after he jibed with a story I told about my mom coming home and seeing an incredible fort that I'd build in my bedroom, and concluding that I'd gotten lost within it when I d...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Hyett director of Peripheral
Posted on Friday 2nd November 2018 Paul Hyett is a firm FrightFest favourite. His work jumps from genre you genre with ease but still retains that "Hyett" feeling in each piece. His latest work, Peripheral is having its UK Premiere at the FrightFest Halloween 2018 event so we decided to chat to Paul about this and his view on technology.
HC: How did the project of Peripheral come together?
PH: Peripheral was bought to me by the original producer, he thought I'd be a good fit. Originally he had pitched me a one woman in a room, contained location about bad technology theme. It didn't feel appealing as after Howl, which was a big film in terms of cast, VFX, stunts etc and I was looking for a more challenging film logisticall...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julian Richards, director of Reborn
Posted on Wednesday 17th October 2018
Ahead of the World premiere screening of Reborn at FrightFest Halloween, Julian Richards discusses the torturous challenges of Daddy's Girl, why he wishes every actress was like Barbara Crampton and future plans, including directing the English language remake of Rabies.
HC: After six years away from directing, you have two films, Reborn and Daddy's Girl poised for distribution. Why these two very different films now?
JR: My previous film Shiver was completed in 2012 and it took longer for me to get back into the directing saddle because of commitments I had to my sales company Jinga Films. The company was growing quickly and needed more of my time and energy. We had grown from handling th...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jules Vincent, co-writer and producer of Alive
Posted on Thursday 4th October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 is well underway and delivering some memorable movie moments, and one of the best is showing on Sunday, Alive. This cracking film sees the return of Grimmfest favourite Rob Grant as director and has been co-written and co-produced by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent. Here Jules tells all about this brilliant piece.
HC: Where did the idea for Alive come from?
JV: We'd talked about writing a horror screenplay for a number of years before we finally came up with the right idea. We're both big fans of classic horror and we love the works of Hitchcock, Carpenter, Friedkin, and Cronenberg so in a way we had a very specific style and feel in mind before we even had the story. A...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Olivier Afonso director of Girls With Balls
Posted on Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 kicks off tomorrow and one of the many highlights of the four day event is the blood-splattered shocker Girls With Balls. We chatted to it's director Olivier Afonso about this fab film and his career as an SFX artists.
HC: What inspired you to write Girls With Balls?
OA: My co-writer and I we wanted to write a trash comedy to entertain an audience because we love festivals: the atmosphere, people screaming, laughing... Personally, I'm inspired by the eighties and nineties movies such as of Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Alex de la Iglesia. We wanted to make a survival movie but with strong women, a girl ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
Posted on Saturday 15th September 2018
FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.
Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?
Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo si...SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive interview with Adam Green, director of Hatchet.
Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV Premiere of Hatchet on Friday 14th Sept, director Adam Green gives an exclusive interview about his beloved franchise and what the future holds for Victor Crowley...
Hatchet is finally getting its first showing on UK TV, courtesy of Horror Channel. We're excited, are you?
I couldn't be more excited! I've always said that even though Hatchet may have world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, it was at FrightFest in London where "Victor Crowley" was truly born. FrightFest was "the screening heard around the world" and the UK audience was so enthusiastic over Hatchet that every genre festival on t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?
TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?
SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up wit...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ferdinando D'Urbano actor, writer, producer of The Laplace's Demon
Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2018
A stand-out movie from FrightFest 2018 tested the brain power of those who saw it. The Laplace's Demon is an incredibly powerful piece so we chatted to one of the creatives behind it, Ferdinando D'Urbano.
HC: I'd never heard of Laplace's Demon theory before, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is?
FDU: The Laplace's Demon is a philosophical theory of the early 1800s. Pierre Simon Laplace was a French mathematician who in his work "Essai philosophique sur les probabilites" (A philosophical essay on probabilities), theorized that if there were an intellect capable of knowing al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andre Gower director of Wolfman's Got Nards
Posted on Monday 27th August 2018
HC: You had already starred in a lot of stuff before The Monster Squad came along, did you think that this was just "another" acting job?
AG: At the time, it was just that. The next audition, the next project. However, once on set and seeing what you were a part of, we realized quickly that this was something bigger and more unique than anything we had done before or may even get to do in the future.
HC: Were you a fan of the Universal monsters at that time?
AG: I always had an appreciation for the classics even as a kid. As you mature, you keep that appreciation and learn more about it and how it affects the present and realize these were very important...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with John Rocco and Abiel Bruhn the writers and directors of The Night Sitter
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018
HC: Where did the idea for The Night Sitter come from?
JR: From the beginning of this story, I had my childhood home in Nashville in mind as the perfect location. After several months of convincing, my parents allowed us to film in their house. It's a pretty amazing feeling to have grown up in the same location that we'd eventually film our first feature in! We were able to incorporate all the parts of my house that used to scare me as a child and weave them into a story about witches, which was extremely fun and nostalgic at times. While developing the story, I tried to recall the scary thoughts I had when I was Kevin's age.
AB: Finding an inspiring location (the house has this stran...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Monday 17th December
Sunday 23rd December
Thursday 20th December