The cast and crew of “Con” may consist of students from the University of Southern California, but this bunch is far from amateur.
“Con” tells the story of two college students who double as con artists. Nicole Dambro and Joey Livingston star as Iris and Jonah — two masterminds with questionable loyalties who team up to pull off impressive heists. Led by showrunners Amy Suto and Jen Enfield-Kane, this six-episode television drama filmed during the spring semester on the USC campus.
When Neon Tommy spoke with Suto, she discussed the show’s dynamic cast and early success at the Miami Web Fest. Though it premieres tonight on Trojan Vision and LA36, “Con” is nominated for two awards — Best Actor for Livingston and Best Cinematography.
Suto is thrilled with the miniseries’ triumph so far, but is exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with Enfield-Kane, someone she knows she’ll work with for years to come.
Read more from Neon Tommy’s interview with Suto below.
Neon Tommy: What inspired the story behind “Con”?
Amy Suto: Last fall, my co-showrunner Jen Enfield-Kane and I took this wonderful class. It was ITP 125 [Information Technology Program at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, “From Hackers to CEOs: Introduction to Information Security”] and we learned about computer hacking, lock-picking and con artists and the tricks that they use. About the same time, there were a bunch of DPS [Department of Public Safety on campus] reports about someone selling fake Italian suits out of a van and scams going on at ATMs. Jen and I were like, “This is real,” so we decided to do our own show about con artists on a college campus — the kind of people they meet, the kind of trouble they run into, what kind of people they fall in love with, the type of obstacles they face, and such.
Neon Tommy: “Con” stars a mix of professional actors and USC students. How did you choose your cast?
Suto: We had an open casting call. We received over 4,000 headshots. We called in about 100 actors for nine roles and two leads. We got actors that matched our vision for the character, but they also brought something new to the role. Some of the actors, we worked with before on previous projects like Portia Juliette [who] plays Evelyn, who actually becomes one of the show’s main antagonists. We worked with her in “Antidote 15” and I just love her ability to play so many multifaceted roles. Our two leads Joey Livingston and Nicole Dambro are just phenomenal. They created their characters. They brought so much life to their roles every day they were on set.
Neon Tommy: What was the actual filming process like?
Suto: It was 26 days of weekends and breaks and it was great. It was really, really fun because we had a wonderful team of USC students who are incredibly motivated and creative. They showed up and worked long hours with us. We have so many inside jokes from set. It was constant fun and hilarity, even though there were long hours and no one was getting paid. It was a great learning experience because our director Avi Kaye would teach people how to use different equipment and people would rotate so they could learn how to use the equipment.
Neon Tommy: What were your biggest challenges while making “Con”?
Suto: Our biggest challenges were having to write scripts that were producible and keep our scripts contained in locations we could shoot in. We wanted to do so much, but we only had time and resources for a small amount.
Neon Tommy: Tell us about the awards “Con” is up for.
Suto: We just got into our first festival, which is the Miami Web Fest. We are not only an official selection, but we are also nominated for Best Cinematography and Joey Livingston is nominated for Best Actor.
Neon Tommy: Do you see a second season in the future, maybe next semester?
Suto: Yeah, that’s definitely the plan. We’re in talks to move forward with that, so fingers crossed that everything works out. We’d love to continue.
Neon Tommy: What advice do you have for other college students who want to break into the TV industry but don’t know where or how to start?
Suto: The first thing is to find collaborators who share the same taste in movies and TV shows that you do and work with them to create something that you want to see on the air — whether that’s a short film or a TV show — creating is one of the greatest things we can do while we’re in college. You have the time and the resources and the people to work with. By reaching out and collaborating with somebody new, you could be working with somebody you’ll work with for the rest of your life. I definitely found one of my writing partners through this project and she’s wonderful and we want to keep doing projects together.
“Con” premieres Sept. 10 on Trojan Vision channel 8.1 and LA36. Episodes are available online here after they air. Watch the trailer below.