During an exclusive conversation with ReelChicago yesterday, Cincespace CEO Alex Pissios informed publisher Barbara Roche and editor Daniel Patton that the pilot for TNT’s The Deep Mad Dark will begin production at the Chicago studio this fall.
“They’re moving into offices September 11, shooting in October,” he said. “It’s a done deal.”
Described by Deadline.com as “an atmospheric mystery-thriller about the complexities of friendship,” The Deep Mad Dark will be directed by Niels Arden Oplev, “the Danish filmmaker who helmed the original 2009 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
John Wells Productions and Fabrik Entertainment, in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television and Turner’s Studio T, will produce. Megan Martin wrote the script.
Pissios also indicated that “one of the actors from Game of Thrones” — most likely Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen H’ghar — will be the male lead.
“This is the guy that taught the girl to be the ‘Woman of Faces,’” he explained.
Other cast members named by Deadline include Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook).
The deal continues a strong year of growth for the North Lawndale television and film production complex, which is also home to The Chi, a Showtime coming-of-age drama set in Chicago starring Common. Although the show most likely won’t premiere until 2018, Pissios is already a big fan.
“I saw some of this footage,” he said. “I think this thing’s gonna be a long running show. I really do. I don’t see this thing being a one and done. Common’s got a great following.”
Cinespace’s reputation as an attractive national TV production location took shape in 2012, when Cinespace landed Dick Wolf’s hit show Chicago Fire. Over the next three years, Fire spawned a Windy City trilogy that now includes Chicago PD (2014) and Chicago Med (2015).
Pissios credits the shows’ creator for much of the success — “Dick Wolf came on and really helped us build the infrastructure,” he said — but he is also quick to note, and praise, the other hit shows filming at the locatinon.
Empire, the hip-hop drama scheduled to enter its fourth season in October, he says, is “just awesome.”
The studio has also nurtured a community that extends beyond the traditional television industry.
Pissios is confident that “the next John Hughes” is currently working somewhere among the go-getters who inhabit the incubator known as Stage 18. DePaul University’s film program will expand its facilities within the studio for the third time this year. And the CineCares Foundation offers career training to local residents through temporary, paid job opportunities.
According to Pissios, the politicians responsible for legislating the film industry are also helping to make it happen.
Besides Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal and Governors Quinn and Rauner — who have all been “great” — he is especially pleased with Illinois Film Office director Christine Dudley, who has put great effort to extending the state’s below-the-line tax incentive, scheduled to expire in four years.
“Christine Dudley’s been working really hard to increase that, which is great,” he explains. “If we can go back to LA and say ‘hey, you know, we have a ten-year incentive,’ that lets these guys know that they can be pretty comfortable when they put a show on TV.”
It also helps him perform his unofficial role as Chicago’s film ambassador to Hollywood.
“I go to LA two, three times a year,” he explains. “I go see every studio … Bring them a nice little Chicago token, you know, the pizza or the caramel corn. I always say, ‘What are we doing wrong? ‘What do we need to change?’ Because I never want to hear that you’re not coming.”
Ed. note: the day after this story was published, TNT cancelled plans to film “The Deep Mad Dark” at Cinespace this year.