The Pickle Recipe is a comedy about a down on his luck emcee that just can’t catch a break. In need of income, he heads down a less than honorable path of trying to trick his grandmother into disclosing her top secret pickle recipe. The man that brings this story together is Michael Manessari. He has been acting for almost 30 years, appearing in movies such as License to Drive and televisions shows such as Weird Science which aired for five seasons. He has since expanded his talents to writing, directing and producing. We had an opportunity to speak with Michael and wanted to share that experience with our readers.
I loved how The Pickle Recipe was not only pro-Michigan, but also pro-Detroit. There were a lot of nods to “The Motor City”, including a few cans of Faygo. Why did you film in The Mitten?
The writers, producers and I are all from Metro-Detroit. We live and work here every day. And the idea for the film came from a true Detroit story. Our co-writer/producer, Gary Wolfson’s grandmother used to make incredible tasting dill pickles. Gary remembers to this day how he would visit her house as a child and the pickles would be fermenting in her kitchen in Detroit. When his grandmother passed away she never gave anyone the recipe so it disappeared with her. So when they started writing the screenplay there was never a question of filming anywhere but Detroit.
We were also one of the last productions to receive the Michigan Film Incentive before it was repealed. The incentive certainly helped motivate our investors (all Michigan locals) to participate in the production.
I read that you worked with a couple hundred students from Oakland University’s Cinema Studies program, what sort of things did they help with?
My company Flux Capacitor Studios has an academic/entrepreneurial partnership with Oakland University’s Cinema Studies program. In the past five years we’ve given over 300 OU Cin Studies students the opportunity work on all of our local Michigan productions from feature films to commercials and music videos. Being on a film set is a unique experience and we do all we can to prepare the kids for when they go out into the real world to pursue a film career. Working on sets while still a student gives them a real advantage when applying for production jobs. We have sure the students work in all areas of production from camera department to sound, makeup, wardrobe, direction, even grip and electric. Many students have started out as production assistants and have gone on to film industry careers in Michigan, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. The partnership has been a great success.
How many pickles did pickles did Ms. Cohen have to eat at the end of shooting? I can imagine quite a few! Was anyone on the set vehemently anti pickle when you wrapped?
Lynn probably had to bite into over 100 pickles in the big pickle tasting scene. The entire deli smelled of Pickle juice and I think we were all “fermented” by the end of the shooting day. But we still love Pickles, especially kosher dills!
At The Pickle Recipe’s core, it’s a family film. I can imagine that many will swap out pickles for something their grandma or grandpa cooked well. Why do you think food brings families together in such a manner?
If we’re lucky enough in our lives to have loving grandparents who fed and nourished us, no matter what our ethnicity or culture, then you can relate to this film. Pickles, meatballs, burritos, dumplings…. whatever the dish, whatever the recipe, food and family will always go together. I’m Italian American and Sunday dinners at my grandparent’s house were a staple of my childhood. My grandmother’s sauce and meatballs and pasta dishes brought our family together and nourished not only our stomachs but our souls. And the passing down of recipes from one generation to the next keeps us connected to our loved ones even when they pass on.
No one in this movie is perfect, I’m sure many will find not only the individual characters to be relatable, but the family as a whole. If you could choose one message that you wished for the film to convey, what would that be?
Remember where you came from… and eat more pickles!!!