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An Interview with Joe Ricci, Writer, Producer and Star of, and Michelle Palermo, Star of Recession Road

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2015

Michelle Palermo on (re)Search my Trash

Joe Ricci on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Recession Road - in a few words, what is it about?


Joe: A man who is slightly past his prime loses everything during the great recession of 2008-2009 and is forced to enter into the world of Illegal underground bare-knuckle boxing in order to survive. The film is about hope, and never giving up. People give up a lot of times and are afraid of change and they keep that attitude of ‘what if’ this happens or that happens. My thought has always been ‘what if you never know what could have been, isn’t that the worst what if there is?’ It’s kind of a theme in the film.


Michelle: I agree with Joe in that it is a story of hope and never giving up. It’s about giving those you love chances and also taking a chance on a love that is worth fighting for even when it’s easier to throw in the towel.


Joe, what were your inspirations for writing Recession Road, and to what extent can you identify with the world of bare-knuckle boxing?


Joe: Bare-knuckle boxing actually does take place around the world. Showtime or 60 Minute Sports did a segment on it just a few months ago and there are efforts to legalize it. I have always been a fan of the movies from the 70s & 80s such as Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way But Loose and the Charles Bronson film Hard Times, which was set in the depression of the 1930s. I thought it would be interesting to do a modern take on the theme. So, I tried to bring the scenario into 2008-2009 when recession hit us all. My hope is that the film has a bit of a gritty throwback feel to it.


The topic of the film, bare-knuckle boxing, suggests quite a bit of action pretty much by definition - so how did you go about that aspect of your movie?


Joe: First, I didn’t want it to be an unrealistic martial arts film with kicks and flips. These are just small town, blue collar guys who let their fists do the talking. More of a tough man contest than professional fighters. There are certain rules they must obey. And I feel the ending is definitely not typical of similar films of this type. There will be a few surprises.


How would you describe the directorial approach to your subject at hand?


Joe: Travis Mills is the director. He is a very talented young man and has the energy of 10 people. He thinks well on his feet, and is very creative, wasting very little time on the set. We shot the film in 14 days. Considering there was around 18 locations, 40 characters and 7 fights that could be a world record.


Michelle, what can you tell us about your character, and what will you draw upon to bring her to life? And how much of Michelle Palermo can we actually find in Gia?


Michelle: Gia has been hardened due to being let down in her life by relationships and just tough times; struggling to support her younger brother Freddie as the sole provider since she was young. It’s difficult for her to give Freddie constant chances but she does because she loves him. The entrance of Jazz into their lives brings out a cautious but slow awakening in Gia. I fell in love with my character the first time I read the script. Being a single mom and growing up young made it easy for me to relate to her relationship with Freddie. Like most people I’ve experienced that raw heartbreak and loss of love and my own unfortunate dealings of holding back due to fear and regretting it. It was easy for me to align my personality and experiences to the role, so there is a great deal of me being displayed on screen.


How did you get involved with Recession Road to begin with, and to what extent can you relate to its bare-knuckle boxing theme?


Michelle: Joe stated he went through so many headshots of actresses and kept coming back to mine; that I just fit ‘Gia’. Plus I have a good reputation in the Phoenix film industry that matches my great love for the craft of acting. I’ve been acting/modeling for about six years now and really started pushing myself forward in the past two years. Beyond watching a few movies, I cannot say I related to the theme before filming, but I’ve definitely learned a few things in shooting the film.


What was the collaboration between the two of you actually like?


Michelle: There were a few times before filming that I was able to get to know Joe which helped me imagine him as Jazz. Our chemistry and connection developed on set especially during a few powerful scenes where our characters are fighting their feelings for each other. Anyone that knows Joe knows he is a great guy and a good friend so it’s easy to connect with him.


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


Joe: Everyone, in my opinion as the writer, fit their character perfectly that they were cast in. It just kind of all feel into place. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for all of their efforts and hard work on this film.


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!


Joe: Whenever you are in the creative process and doing things in such a time crunch, tensions will run high – there were probably more fights off screen then on… lol… but overall it was a fun, but definitely exhausting shoot for all of us.


Michelle: As can be expected on any set, there were times things got a bit heated off camera, but the cast and crew really put their heart and soul into it working their asses off. As Joe mentioned previously, Travis Mills (Running Wild Films) is a talented director and has an incredible knowledge and passion for film. I really respect his work. James Alire (5J Media), who handled sound, has a track record for high quality work and same for the director of photography, Nick Fornwalt. Really an amazing team all the way around and we had a lot of fun and laughs throughout the shoots.


Any idea when and where the film will be released onto the general public yet?


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Joe: The film is in post-production and currently being edited. Hopefully in the next 6 months we will have something to show the public.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Joe: Working on a slate of projects currently; coming soon is all I can say right now.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Recession Road Facebook page:


Michelle’s acting website:


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD