We've Got Hollywood Covered
|

5 Fast Impressions of SXSW 2015 From a Newbie

I was unprepared for the vast smorgasbord of knowledge, networking and innovative stuff going on

I was warned that SXSW was overwhelming, but even so I was unprepared for the vast smorgasbord of knowledge, networking and innovative stuff going on.

Did I mention? It’s my first time in Austin, at this annual gathering of music, film, art and technology and it’s sprawling. The crowd – spilling everywhere under the mild, sunny skies of Austin in March with the promise of spring afoot – is young and seriously good-looking. Keynotes and panels go on all day, crisscrossing with screenings and parties that start at 1 a.m.

Here’s five quick impressions of the festival so far (did I mention the good-looking young people?):

1.) It’s a great, big party for millennial hipsters.
The main drag in downtown Austin of Sixth Street is shut to traffic and has parties with deejays and live music blasting from each side of the street. People hang over balconies of bars called “Amped,” and “Chuggin’ Monkey” and “The Dizzy Rooster” like some 21st century version of Wild West saloons.

liveband sxsw2.) Hollywood is still trying to figure this place out.
The Hollywood insiders I run into – like director David Friendly, who is here with his documentary debut, “Sneakerhedz” – is as disoriented as I am — which is part of the fun.

"Sneakerheadz" co-directors David Friendly and Mick Partridge with Sharon Waxman,

“Sneakerheadz” co-directors David Friendly and Mick Partridge with Sharon Waxman,

3.) Social owns the conversation.
Everyone here is talking about social and video in particular. Meerkat, the newly-launched app that lets you livestream over Twitter, had handcuffs put on it by the social platform – that too is a sign of how vibrant this new piece of technology probably is.

Meerkat App

Meerkat App

4.) The stars are here, but …. they’re in a hurry.
Ryan Gosling, for example, is here with his directorial debut, but you won’t see him knocking from interview to gifting suite. The stars are in and they’re out. And Russell Brand didn’t even show up for his own movie.

ryan gosling lost river5.) Tech makes its home here.
The conversation at SXSW is dominated by this. Panels on Saturday alone included: “How Software Design Can Reduce Energy Consumption,” “DIY Brain Hacking, Electroceuticals and You” and “Get Verified or Go Home.” You see what I mean.

SGN founded by Chris DeWolfe put on a great party on Friday night. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti showed and actor/music producer Balthazar Getty spun the music. It’s part of the panoply of digital media companies that are here, and driving much of the activities.