Rachel Skarsten and Paul Amos spoke with Solzy at the Movies yesterday morning about this weekend’s virtual fan convention, HOMECON.
HOMECON is taking place this weekend. The publicist was just telling me that you came up with the idea 11 days ago.
Paul Amos: Indeed we did.
Rachel Skarsten: That’s about right.
Paul Amos: It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since then.
Rachel Skarsten: Yeah.
Which one of you came up with the idea for HOMECON first?
Paul Amos: Well, it was a joint idea, really. But it was born out of the fact that I kind of was trying to do something kind of fun out of the lockdown. I was asking fans to just to message me and I would call a fan every day to do a Zoom call like this—one to one just to try and do something fun to get people through it. And then I thought, Oh, man, that must be kind of good like a comic con. So that’s I went to Rachel, I said, These fans love this thing. It could be cool to do a virtual comic con. And she was like, “That’s a genius idea.” For Rachel to say anything nice about me especially the word genius—
Rachel Skarsten: 99% of the ideas Paul brings to me—I’m like, You’re gonna get arrested, please don’t do that. (Laughs)
I have done a live with Adelaide Kane just to sort of answer some fan questions because we were going to do a comic con that got canceled. People had sort of been writing and saying they were disappointed that they’ve been really looking forward to this event. And we’ve been discussing maybe it’d be a cool idea to bring in some other classmates. Of course, you can’t do that on Instagram Live—it’s only two people at a time. When Paul said this idea, I really did think it was it was genius. And so, the two misfits got together and decided that we could make this happen. We’re really, really fortunate because we have an incredible team that we’ve put together behind us and who have just been working around the clock to make this larger idea a reality. It’s really quite incredible. Every morning, we have a check-in meeting and it’s just really neat to see it kind of unfold.
Paul Amos: Yeah, it’s amazing. Sometimes in crisis, there’s really beautiful positive opportunity. It’s just amazing to see that flourish at this time for something that’s going to be incredibly positive for a lot of people. We’re going to bring people together into a community, connect them, and have a lot of fun. It’s not going to be expensive. It’s going to be affordable.
Rachel Skarsten: Well, that was the thing. I think Paul and I really felt in light of all of these comic cons being canceled that that place of community for people had been taken away. We wanted to create a fan sort of convention that would give people that community back but also being sensitive to the time that we live in right now where people are losing their jobs—they don’t have a lot of money. The fact that they can come on a platform like Twitch and for $4.99 have two days of entertainment with 15 different show panels we just were really, really excited about. On top of that, we really wanted the whole con—the whole event itself—to donate 10% of all the proceeds to First Responders First, which is a great, great charity that we’re super excited to be supporting.
Paul Amos: Every single actor is free to donate to their specific causes because some people do have them. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting this up and running. For these positive reasons, we’ve really put some good sweat equity into trying to create a community that people can come and be a part of.
What can you tell us about First Responders First?
Paul Amos: First Responders First is a front-line organization. They’re trying to get the equipment through to the necessary doctors and nurses and healthcare workers on the front line. I feel quite strongly about that and clearly, that’s become a big issue. That equipment is an issue so in any way that we can protect the people who are trying to save lives on the front lines, that’s something that we very much believe in.
One of the things I noticed when I was going through the initial press release for HOMECON was that there’s a limit of two five-minute chats. Is that a single conversation with talent or overall, is a person only limited to two chats?
Rachel Skarsten: We’re going to be having caught calls on Zoom. Fans can sign up to have a one on one chat for five or ten minutes with their favorite actor. We wanted to limit the amount. If you go on the website, you can sign up for a chat with every actor on the website up to two times. We didn’t want it to be more than that because time is limited so that we provided an opportunity for as many people as possible to engage with their favorite actor. That’s why there’s that limit.
Paul Amos: The particular thing of the one to one chats is something truly unique because if you go to a comic con sometimes particularly with high tier talent from really big shows—sometimes it can feel like a bit of a carousel moving people through and you don’t get much of an experience. It’s kind of sign the thing and then it moves on. But with this, you’re guaranteed five minutes of Zooming into the other person’s home and you’re in your home.
Rachel Skarsten: You’re like chilling on the couch together.
Paul Amos: Just chilling. Maybe having a glass of wine or a beer and just shooting the shit, right?
Rachel Skarsten: I have to say so many of the actors are just so excited for that part of the of the fan event. When Paul and I were talking to everyone and sort of explaining what it was, I can’t tell you how many actors said Sign me up for all of them! Bring them on! I love it! I want to talk to everyone!
Paul Amos: All the calls! Also, you got to consider for the panels, it’s just us kind of hanging out with all our old castmates. It’s all current classmates. It’s awesome. It’s just everything about this should be fun.
Rachel Skarsten: Yeah, we’ve told actors to have fun with it. We’ve joked around saying bring your pets to the convention. Wear at a towel on your head. I really think it’s gonna add another element to it and be a lot of fun.
It’s kind of funny. The last fun thing I did before everything started shutting down was C2E2 in Chicago.
Rachel Skarsten: Oh, really?
It was like late February this year. When I looked at the program last year and they announced the dates for this year, I’m like, that is way too early, who is going to come? Sure enough, it’s the last con on the circuit before things shut down.
Paul Amos: It’s unfortunate that a lot of those comic cons are not going to happen or have to reschedule for much later. We hope that we’re going to provide something unique and new that people like. The other thing about this con is it’s truly accessible. There are a lot of people that actually can’t access cons for a lot of different reasons.
Rachel Skarsten: Whether it’s travel—
Paul Amos: Financial restrictions
Rachel Skarsten: How much it costs to get into the con itself and then on top of that, paying for an autograph. Paul and I really, really at the beginning of this, we thought we want people to be able to see every panel. We want them to be able to have a meaningful interaction with an actor that they like. We really want that to be available to people for under $60. Two full days of entertainment and when we took it to the team, they were like, Alright, we’re going to make it happen. That’s what we’ve done and we’re really, really excited about that.
Paul Amos: I mean, if you look at what some other people are doing out there with regards to some of the virtual experiences, I challenge you to have a better lineup at a more affordable price. This is for everybody.
Rachel Skarsten: We also challenge those events to be aware of the situation for so many people right now and to give back to the communities that they’ve been a part of and help to create. Paul and I really, really felt that as well.
Paul Amos: It’s time to give back.
Rachel Skarsten: We’ve so enjoyed being part of all of these fan communities and so yeah, we just wanted to give something back.
Will this be the only HOMECON or could we expect more if things last into May or June?
Paul Amos: What we’ve done with this comic con, you’ll see in the title on Instagram and the other stuff that we’ve got is we’ve got a 1.0. That’s like a little reference to the comic book collection. The next one, 2.0, is already well and truly in the works. We have a huge roster of actors that were dying to be a part of this.
Rachel Skarsten: They feel the same way that we do but we could only accommodate a certain amount of actors. We kept saying, okay, 2.0, 2.0. Now that it’s all sort of coming together, that’s a reality. If people subscribe, if they watch it, if they like it, we’d be all ready to go for number two.
Rachel, you were working on Batwoman when productions started to shut down. What was going through your mind as this is happening and how many episodes were left to shoot?
Rachel Skarsten: We had two episodes left to shoot. The shutdown was quite fast. I got a call in the morning. I finished that day and then we shut down. I think it was a very good decision. I know that the production did that for the protection of everyone on the set, and I really appreciated that. Obviously, we all wanted to finish the season and may still. As of right now, we finished 20.
What have you been doing to stop yourself from going stir crazy.
Rachel Skarsten: This! (Laughs) Paul and I haven’t had time to go stir crazy yet. We’ve been working 18 hours a day on this. (Laughs)
Paul Amos: Exactly. It’s been a lot of FaceTime with Skarsten.
Rachel Skarsten: Yeah, I think I’ve been called more now than when we were on Lost Girl together. (Laughs)
I’m just glad I had a reason to get up super early this morning.
Rachel Skarsten: Thank you so much though.
Lately, I’ve had nothing to do so I’ll set my alarms and go back to bed.
Rachel Skarsten: Well, now you have a reason to get up for two days—100%.
Paul Amos: Be there.