SXSW takes Austin by storm

NASA teaches South By Southwest attendees more about space and the organization’s mission. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

Each year, thousands of people come to South by Southwest to learn from professionals, create connections, share their experiences and enjoy film and music from artists around the globe.

This year, there are three sections of South by Southwest that attendees can enjoy: interactive sessions, film sessions and music sessions. This past weekend, which was the first weekend of the festivals, many of the attendees were interactive and film badge holders because the music conference did not start until yesterday.

Much of the first weekend was focused on speakers such as actor Nick Offerman, Executive Editor of the New York Times Dean Baquet, actor Rainn Wilson, snapchat influencers such as Cyrene Quiamco and well-known businesses sharing their experiences.

On Friday, “Song to Song,” a film featuring actors Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman, premiered at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin. Gosling attended the premiere, and on Saturday, director Terrence Malik and actor Michael Fassbender made an appearance at a discussion around the fast-paced filming of the movie and their experiences filming in Austin.

“Once we stared going, there was no stop,” Fassbender said.

The film conference also featured movies film lovers around the globe will see later this year such as “Baby Driver,” which is set to release in August, “Life,” which premieres later this week and “Atomic Blonde,” which will be available in theaters in July.

Nick Offerman, an actor best known for his role as Ron Swanson on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” held a comedic session at the film conference, the line for which stretched across the fourth floor of the Austin Convention Center. Offerman was at the conference because he starred in two of the featured films: “Infinity Baby” and “The Hero.”

In his session, Offerman said that throughout his career, he learned many things, one being that he acts best when he is given roles that are similar to his real-life personality, such as Swanson. In addition to the character’s demeanor being similar to Offerman’s, both the character and Offerman have a strong passion for carpentry.

“It’s hard to hold Ron Swanson up to any other role I’ve done,” Offerman said. “I’ve never had such great writers write something for me.”

Overall, throughout the festival, volunteers and attendees alike were able to enjoy the conferences, music and films. Brandon Torio, a SXSW volunteer from Austin, said he loves volunteering at SXSW because of the opportunities it brings.

“It’s not a lot of work for a great perk,” Torio said. “After I’m done working on Tuesday, I get to go off and enjoy all of the music.”

Scotland Washington, a student at the University of Texas, said she enjoys SXSW for its films, and she has enjoyed her experience thus far on this first weekend.

“It’s a cool experience,” Washington said. “There’s a lot to see, a lot to eat and a lot to learn.”

One of the interactive sessions on Friday was about how Snapchat is being used in marketing and how it is becoming a primary tool for personalization in businesses in order to reach out to consumers.

“It’s about getting your audience to interact,” said Shaun Ayala, Snapchat interactive storyteller. “Once you get them to communicate with you, you’re doing something special.”