Slight regret that I didn’t head to SXSW on Thursday. It meant that I was too jetlagged to find the energy to keep awake for the premiere of Kick Ass starring Nicholas Cage and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse last night the Paramount. However, having a good night’s sleep (and a fabulous dinner at Moonshine) meant that I had more energy to endure my first day here at SXSW 2010.
So, with the traditional IHOP breakfast, I went to my first panel session called The Powershift: Who Stands Between Creator and Audience. The panel members are below. To find some of the conversations that went on Twitter use #thepowershift.
- Liesl Copland, William Morris Endeavor’s Global Finance & Distribution Group
- Malik Ducard, Paramount
- Tom Quinn, Magnolia Pictures
- Chris Hyams, B-Side Entertainment
- Matt MacNaughton, Musician-Friendly Culture Jam
Although it was focusing mainly on the theatrical side of things, I was interested in the concept of this session because I can see that there has been an apparent “shift” in broadcasting power. When I say broadcasting, I don’t just mean television broadcast, but media as a whole. Basically, it’s not just about the big boys maintaining a strong hold in broadcasting, but the so called little ones are able to broadcast themselves thanks to digital and social media.
The overall message was that the power shift is not completed. It’s still in transition.
Quinn, who is with Magnolia Pictures, stated that the theatrical industry is using more old world marketing, but there have been a lot of innovation with digital marketing. So, he said that he found that they worked with local cable providers and doing promos available via VOD menus that contain extra material and incentivising audience.
Quinn’s company gets support from bloggers and according to him bloggers are the fastest growing audience in the specialised work. He said marketing is peer to peer and this is powerful, which is why blogger support is great. But he added that content is glue to this.
Paramount’s Malik Ducard has the League of Extraordinary Dancers under his belt. He added the fact that innovation is a big contributor to this and Magnolia is doing it well. He said “it’s an industry to break out of standard model which works for a big portion of the content that goes out. It’s our job to press the boundaries of what’s been done and create new approaches that’s outside of the model.” He said that they are workng on creating content that is straight for and produced for digital.
Ducard said that innovation, experimentation and risk taking are the steps to find the right path to go beyond the boundaries.
MacNaughton said it is important to know how to monetise from different models. There is a need to create properties that plug into audiences and use digital and social media. He asked the questions what are the formats that will be of value to adudiences? and what new formats are going to reach audiences?
Hyams then added that there is no magic formula to all these. The key is make sure that there’s a transactional platform that is tied in to the new media stuff. He said that word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective way of marketing and social media effectively allows people / companies to just that.
The best example of power shift they gave was Felicia Day. She produced a series about gamers on YouTube and then cut a deal with Microsoft for exclusive release on the Xbox platform. She was smart to do this because she got a cut in a very generous share. Day has 1.3m Twitter followers, which apparently is more than the New York Times readership. So, she is a content creator who has hold of her audience and the deal she’s cut with MS enabled her to control all IP. But he doesn’t think this is going to be the norm, but still shows the powershift. It’s people who understand social media currency that do quite well.
Ducard added that digital should be interactive and engaging e.g. give audiences a season pass, access to something, which gives them the element of exclusitivity.
After quite a good panel session, I went to the Kick Ass Film Panel. Speakers were:
- John Romita Jr
- Mark Millar
- Aaron Johnson
- Matthew Vaughn
- Chloe Moretz
- Christopher Mitz-Plasse
This was a good session and made me proud as didn’t realise that the write and director are both British – Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn. Had a quick chat with Mark at the end of the session and he was really nice. I suppose my highlight was seeing Chris, who played McLovin in Superbad.
I’ve got a few vids on this, so will be posting those up.
After that, I went around the Trade Show, which was quite nice. Lots of stickers and my personal favourite Mimobot was there. They have released a line of Hello Kitty USB sticks, so I will be purchasing one. Went to visit the Heart of England and Digital Mission stands before embarking on a double chilli dog and rootbeer at Champions opposite the Convention Centre.
Then I ventured to the Hilton where Brand Fiction took place. A very inspiring session and so will be writing about this separately. After this amazing talk, I headed to the Radisson with Ruth (@ruthward) and Sarah (@SarahScreenWM) for a few bevvies before going to Dorkbot. Some really cool stuff at Dorkbot. Here’s a photo I took:
Everyone was famished at the end of Dorkbot, so we all headed to Fogo de Chao for some Brazilian noms. Oh. My. Goodness. It was brilliant. Possibly not ideal for vegetarians (like Becky – @beckycad), but the selection of meat they had in there was fantastic. That with margaritas on the rocks ended the evening perfectly. Oh and here’s a video to cheer you up – it’s a giant hamster we saw by the Convention Centre:
My very first trip to Texas was quite overwhelming and SXSW Film and Interactive has been such a great experience and this is why I am going again. I’m flying from London rather than Birmingham this time around and do watch this space for my 2010 SXSW experiences.
I’m most looking forward to seeing the Midlands crew rocking Austin and meeting up with the rest of the British contingency from London and Bristol over there. Of course, I’m also excited about meeting some very interesting people from around the world, since it feels like almost every country is represented at the festival.
This time, I’m staying longer to get a feel of SXSW Music, so expect margaritas and steak stories from time to time.
After a busy Day 1 of getting to know so many friendly people, Day 2 proved to be a busier day.
I was supposed to go to the Polaroid Breakfast at Katz’s Deli, but the confusion over the hotel’s shuttle and taxi booking meant that I missed it and so had to go to Champion’s Bar and Restaurant for a quick brekkie. So had a Texas state shaped waffle, which I had to cook myself with some scrambled eggs, some scone looking thing, which the lady serving drowned in some grey gravy, which was nice. Had to eat really quickly because I didn’t want to be late for my first session, which was Transatlantic Troubleshooting: Getting into Europe’s New Media Market.
The panel consisted of:
- Aleks Krotoski, Chair, technology journalist
- Stuart Townsend, Sun Microsystems
- Mike Teasdale, Harvest Digital
- Nigel Eccles, Hotdub
- Mike Butcher, European Editor, Techcrunch
The message is that Europe is going through a huge cultural shift and so there is a big potential for technological changes as well. They had mentioned that within the UK, London is not the only place where everything is happening and US businesses might want to consider looking at:
The other message is that Europe very much has a ‘face to face’ culture. You need to shake a few hands to establish that relationship and make a deal. For those US companies who want to network with European forces, the panel advised that they should make use of events like The Web and Deconstruct.
After this, I went to the other end of the Austin Convention Center to go to the I Love You, Man: Are You Man Enough to Say It? film talk. The cast were there – Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jaime Pressly, Rashida Jones, John Favreau as well as the producer and writer of the film – Donald De Line and John Hamburg respectively. Chaired by Mark Olsen, LA Times correspondent, the talk was about the making of the film. What was amazing about it? De Line had been developing the script for a few years and the film’s just come out now. Also, Favreau and Pressly believes in word of mouth. So they think that if the cast engage with the fans through something like this, those who wish to tweet about it would help promote the film. As expected, the two main guys were mobbed by people and they happily obliged to have a few photos taken with their loyal fans.
Starving and slightly starstruck, Becky and I met up and went to Champion’s again for lunch. Then, we sat down to look at our schedules and got asked about our Bostin Austin shirts. Turned out the woman who asked is a presenter for Austin Lifestyles, so we happily obliged to give an interview. We legged it to our next session and mine was: The Future of Social Networking with Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group.
There was quite a lot to absorb from here, but message is that social networking will play a big role in our lives to the point that it is going to be as essential as air, but this is going to require a lot of hard work and it will be an uphill struggle. She thinks the secret to conquering this issue involves three things:
Grabbed a juice from The Hilton and then went to Designing the Future of The New York Times. The speakers were Tom Bodkin, Assistant Managing Editor and Design Director of The New York Times and Khoi Vinh, who is also the paper’s Design Director. The overall message: The NY Times is trying to find ways of evolving but not losing the element of good storytelling and high quality journalism.
They want content to be platform agnostic and for the reader to have a cohesive experience with the multimedia features.
That over, we all went to Champion’s again for dinner.
It’s the end of Day 1 of SXSW.
Got registered fairly quickly and so Becky and I went to IHOP for breakfast. I had pancake and scrambled eggs and Becs went for blueberry pancake. The portions were huge, so we were better off sharing as one meal could feed two people. We both headed back to the Austin Convention Center again and parted ways to do our chosen sessions. Session 1 for me was Getting the Most Out of SXSW Film.
I went because I wanted to get tips from SXSW Film veterans about how to tackle this bit of the festival. As a fresher, I wasn’t exactly sure what the ettiquette is, so I just wanted to make sure I was doing it the right way. The panel consisted of:
Agnes Varnum, Chair, Austin Film Society
Amy Dotson, Producer and Managing Director, IFP
Kevin Kelly, blogger
PJ Raval, Cinematographer
Michael Lerman, programmer for the Woodstock Film Festival
- Make sure you visit The Paramount and The Alamo even if you’re not watching any of the films being premiered
- Try not to go for the big screenings because the queues will just be so long
- Go to the SXSW Block Party
- Anything that is being organised by Voodoo Cowboy is cool
- Visit sxswfree.com for any free stuff you might want
- The mini meetings are great because it gives you the chance to get access to the film industry’s elite
- Check out the first time filmmaker films and ‘Midnight Madness’ horrors
- Take advantage of the free shuttle open to film badge holders
So, with these in mind, I waited for the next session, which was How to Rawk SXSW. This one is more of a general talk about the whole festival. The panelists had a really cool rock and roll intros and they consisted of:
- Glenda Bautista, Chair, Agendacide
- Ernie Hsiung, blogger
- Baratunde Thurston, comedian and web editor of The Onion
- John Styn, hugnation.com
- Zadi Diaz, Smashface
They were doing the session as the swigged on a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. They were even more informal than the first lot and seemed like a really fun bunch. They’ve been going to SXSW for years and their tips were:
- Deepen the conversation – don’t be so blatantly obvious about networking – be subtle and have more meaningful conversations, so you establish a relationship
- Visit the various SXSW sites – my.sxsw.com, sched.org, sxsw.ning.com, pepsicozeitgeist.com and upcoming.yahoo.com/tag/sxswi
- Make sure you try a breakfast burrito
- Get out of the convention centre and make connections when you’re out to breakfast, lunch or dinner and of course, the socials/parties
After this, the West Midlands contingent went to a Mexican restaurant on 6th Street. I had one of my favourites – tacos. We then went the Soho Lounge, which was a bit dark for me and then went to Coyote Ugly, which was quite cool, because I absolutely loved the film. Becky and I said goodbye to the rest of the squad and pedicabbed it to her hotel where I got a taxi back to mine.
This concludes Day 1 of SXSW.