Alex Pissios may have sold Cinespace Chicago a few months ago, but he’s still in the production game. One Golden Summer and Wizdom are two of his newest endeavors. After the pandemic stopped movie production in 2020, he’s happy to see it ramping up again in Chicago.
An Alex Pissios Documentary About the Jackie Robinson West Little League Scandal
Pissios is actively advancing Chicago’s return to production after the COVID-19 complications. He’s producing the true story of an all-Black baseball team in the Jackie Robinson West Little League that won the league’s 2014 U.S. bracket for the Little League World Series. They’d later lose to the team from Seoul, South Korea, in the World Championship. They became an instant sensation despite the last loss.
The 12-year-old boys were heroes to their fellow Black youths. They received a ticker tape parade in Chicago and traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet President Barack Obama. People in Chicago and across the country couldn’t stop talking about them. The Jackie Robinson West Little League team appeared on multiple news shows while reveling in their historic win.
The celebrations would be short-lived. Soon after taking the U.S. title, a rival coach accused the team of recruiting players from outside geographical boundaries. Coaches and local officials denied this took place. However, the Little League sided with the rival coach and stripped Jackie Robinson West of its title. Once local heroes, people now called the young players cheaters. Adults left them to fend for themselves with the media backlash.
The documentary focuses on the lives of the players who are now 20 and 21 years old. Viewers will recognize themes of lost innocence, resilience, and survival. Pissios is the executive producer of the film along with Danny Zamost. They plan to release One Golden Summer in 2023.
From Documentary to Sci-Fi
The future science fiction series Wizdom began production in Chicago in mid-February 2022. Alex Pissios is the executive producer of the independent film. Wizdom takes place in a future where Earth has very few daylight hours. The film follows the antics of two professional thieves who live just outside a neon-lit colony. The colony is under the control of Wizdom, a biotech corporation.
Eos and Vayle, the film’s main characters, steal raw materials from the biotech company. Their purpose is to create a drug that shows users the future. They volunteer to be guinea pigs even though they’re uncertain whether the concoction will give them permanently enhanced vision and extrasensory powers.
Filming for Wizdom is taking place at CineCity in Chicago. CineCity is part of Cinespace on the city’s southwest side. Pissios has created agreements with Cinespace’s new owners for this and future projects.
It’s All Greek to Him! Alex Pissios Considers Purchasing Studio Space in Greece
Although he was born and raised in Chicago, Pissios can’t help having a fondness for Greece. Nick Mirkopoulos, his grandfather’s cousin and later business partner, is a Greek-born immigrant who came to Canada in 1968. He refers to Mirkopoulos as his uncle and is forever grateful for the opportunity he received from him. He describes his Uncle Nick fondly, “I don’t know many people like that. At the age of 70, comes here and starts working seven days a week with me just to help. The guy could have been sitting on a boat in Greece or traveling the world, but he wanted to help.”
Mirkopoulos, who operated Cinespace Toronto, needed someone to help him expand it to the United States. He knew Pissios was up for the challenge after losing his real estate career in the late 2000s.
Bankrupt and feeling demoralized, Pissios was more than happy to expand Cinespace’s footprint in Chicago to create a U.S. presence. He took over operations entirely after Mirkopoulos passed away in 2013. Pissios remained the CEO until he sold Cinespace to a private investor in November 2021. However, he remains heavily involved in the Chicago film scene and the charitable organizations he founded while CEO.
So it’s no wonder Pissios would ponder setting up shop in the homeland of his ancestors. There are plenty of incentives.
The Greek government announced in August 2021 it would provide several benefits to attract businesses to build investment studios. They include: a stable tax regime for 12 years; favorable site planning terms; and accelerated process to receive a permit that will not surpass 45 days.
Champion of the Community
Pissios remains willing and committed to working with people living near Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. He announced in April 2021 that Cinespace’s North Lawndale campus will build 19 additional soundstages. The new studios are in addition to the 33 the campus already hosts.
Before the expansion, Pissios pointed out Cinespace had to turn down several productions due to a lack of available stages. Turning down production means hundreds of people miss out on a new job. The city approving permits for the additions will result in the creation of up to 2,000 jobs.
However, locals were concerned Cinespace’s expansion will produce even more headaches with a lack of parking spaces. They previously clashed with Cinespace over road closures that prevented easy access to other residential neighborhoods and public transportation hubs. However, there have been no objections to the opportunities that have been churned out in his wake. “We took kids from this underserved community and gave them a paid internship out of high school and a pathway where I cover the union dues, the $5,000 to be a member,” Pissios says. “These kids were getting jobs making 40, 50, 60 grand a year right out of high school, after the internship program. The Academy Award partnered with me. That’s what I’m most proud of. It’s still going strong.”
Pissios says he recognizes that these tensions exist and that he’s willing to work with Cinespace’s new owners to create acceptable solutions for the community. The Windy City certainly has not seen the last of Alex Pissios, not by a long shot.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.