Back in 2021 I interviewed actor Corin Nemec about an upcoming project he was about to start filming. That project was Bron Theron’s Half Dead Fred, and Bron and crew were heading to Flint, Michigan to shoot the paranormal film-noir comedy. Now in 2023, that project is finished and was just released on Prime Video March 15. To celebrate the release of Half Dead Fred, I chatted with Bron via phone about filming in Flint, what inspired the movie, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: Half Dead Fred was a lot of fun! I’ve been waiting for it to be finished because I interviewed Corin Nemec right before you started shooting, so it’s been pretty exciting to see it coming along.
Bron Theron: Oh, that’s awesome!
PopHorror: What inspired the film and how did the project come about?
Bron Theron: I travel to Flint, Michigan every year, usually to do murals there with this program called The Flint Public Art Project. When you go there to do these murals – that’s how I know Corin as well because he does murals – you stay at this guy’s house, and it’s this huge Victorian four-story crazy basement, crazy attic kind of a place with lots of creaks and noises and scariness when you stay there. It kind of became a joke that we should make a horror movie because we’re staying in this horror house, like it’s a haunted house. That’s kind of how it started. There’re also other things. The guy who runs this program and lives in this house, he actually wrote a book called Haunted Flint, so he went to all the places around Flint that are known to be haunted and actually has a published book. In fact, now he has two I believe. At the time, he gave me a copy of the book and I read it on the flight home, and just decided to write a script about Flint, Michigan.
PopHorror: That’s so interesting! That was my next question, why Flint, Michigan? It’s very specific. You did film there and it’s mentioned several times in the movie that you are in Flint.
Bron Theron: I wanted to make it a Flint film for multiple reasons. One reason is Flint, Michigan has a very bad reputation for other things, like the water crisis, and the GM factory leaving, and a lot of people in general leaving, and it being quite high in crime. It has a really, really bad rep. I think doing something like a feature film there brings a lot of positivity there, even though there’s a paranormal aspect to it. I’d say it’s more film noir mystery than horror horror. I wanted to do something positive there and I wanted something that the Flint people – the locals – could be proud of because there’s a lot of people from Flint that actually worked on the film.
PopHorror: That’s so cool!
Bron Theron: I’d say more than half. At least half the cast is from there. We casted there. Half the crew is from there. A lot of times when production companies come in, they bring a whole production in. They very rarely hire local. Sometimes they do extras and stuff like that, but we really went the extra length to make it a Flint movie in general. People from Flint are proud of it.
PopHorror: They should be! I love that a lot. What was your casting process like?
Bron Theron: I wrote the film for Corin, so I didn’t really have him audition. I have known Corin for a while. He has done another film with me, and it was more of a scheduling, and will he be down to do this after he reads it situation with Corin. And Corin was on board right away. There were very, very little things that he had issues with, as far as our storytelling and script writing, and things like that. I guess I got lucky there. We held two casting sessions in Flint, Michigan, and hired a lot of people from the local theater departments. We also did a casting session in Long Beach, California. We shot four days in Long Beach, and 14 days in Flint. So the majority of our casting, I’d say, was from Flint, Michigan.
PopHorror: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Bron Theron: Man… I guess I have two favorite scenes. One favorite scene I have is the end of the 14 days that we did in Flint. The last stuff that we were doing was the graveyard scene and I had personally dug the grave with two of my associates. This was a small project, so a lot of people wore many hats. So I dug a grave with my set dresser and my prop master. We were the only people digging the grave. I didn’t think it was actually fair to go tell some PA to do it. I just didn’t feel like… Digging a grave? That’s beyond their pay rate. So I went and dug this grave, and we shot that scene, and I feel like since it was the end scene in Flint, everyone was so excited and happy, so we ordered pizza and drank some Truly. We got a couple 12 packs of Truly and just really celebrated that this was our last day in Flint shooting. We had accomplished that. Now we still had four more days to shoot in California after a couple days off, but still I was so ecstatic that we had finished in Flint. That was one of my favorite moments. I actually hugged my tech director. And then another day that was my favorite, just for random reasons, this happens all the time. I had a scene where an actor didn’t show up and I had to do the role. But I’m an actor too so acting is really fun. In fact, that’s the funnest part of this whole industry. I got to act that day, and get in a fight, and do this scene. I just had a lot of fun that day because I didn’t expect to be in the movie, but it was a happy accident.
PopHorror: I guess it makes it easier when you’ve written the material and you know it to be able to stand-in. Did that make it into the final product?
Bron Theron: It’s in the final movie. I’m an actor in the movie.
PopHorror: What is up next for you?
Bron Theron: Right now, I’m in pre-production for a movie called Pancake Man. It’s like a revenge slasher thriller movie. It’s kind of like Falling Down. It’s very similar to that where a guy just gets to a breaking point and he goes on a rampage, although my guy is a little bit more intense than Michael Douglas. But this movie triggers different stories and I kind of like it when multiple stories are going on at once and they all end in a kind of Mexican standoff. Pancake Man is going to be pretty crazy.
PopHorror: That’s an interesting title. Can you tell us what it means?
Bron Theron: Sure. It started off much like Half Dead Fred, as a joke. We have a buddy, and he wanted a slasher film done and he wanted to be the lead of it. He really likes pancakes. He’s a very big fan of pancakes, and I jokingly said, “We’ll call it Pancake Man!” And that was a joke, a total joke. We weren’t going to make a movie about it, of course. And then some other things happened and fell through for him, and I had an idea for a good script. I’m really kind of a stickler for writing, and I want the story to be a good story, a revealing story and not a story that’s been done before, if you could even do that. I just want a different take on stuff, and I think I have it so I wrote the script. He liked it, and all of a sudden, now again we’re making a movie based on just a joke.
PopHorror: I am intrigued and will keep an eye out for that. I have just one last question for you today, Bron. What’s your favorite scary movie?
Bron Theron: I don’t even know if these are scary movies, but in the horror genre, my favorite movies are Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness, and those fall under comedy as well. Those movies are my favorite in that genre.
Thank you so much to Bron for taking the time to speak with us. Half Dead Fred is available on Amazon Prime Video!