March 9, 2019
SXSW 2019

SXSW Insider Tips and Advice From Festival Programmers and Journalists

SXSW Insider Tips and Advice
How to surive and thrive at SXSW. 

Even if you've been to SXSW before, there is a chance you missed some things, or at the very least didn't optimize your time at the festival and in Austin. 

That's why the SXSW beginners guide panel is chock full of value for anyone planning to attend.

The panel included Brandy Fons (Fons PR), Austin Nauert (SXSW Festival Programmer), Jenny Nulf (Dir. of Programming Austin Asian American Film Festival) and Richard Whittaker (Austin Chronicle). 

They bring a combined 40 years of SXSW experience to the table.

So yeah, they've got some solid tips. So let's dive in.

SXSW tips and advice

There is so much to see and do in Austin during SXSW, but the panel did try to focus on some easily overlooked basics. 

Bring an umbrella. The weather changes fast, and it almost always rains at some point. 

Event status boards are your friend and download the app. You can find out if an event is at or close to capacity before you trek over and wait in a line.

Give yourself time to get places. There is a lot of traffic, and many roads are closed. Plan accordingly!

Parking can be rough. Rideshare, walk or take a scooter or bike. One panel member had been towed FIVE times during SXSW. That'll ruin your fest... 

Take a day off. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy what else Austin has to offer, don't burn out on films, or events. 

The venues vary. The Paramount Theater is huge and has strict bag policies. The Alamo Ritz is smaller are often packed. 

SXSW Insider Tips and Advice Paramount

Make sure you are in the right line! The Paramount and Stateside theaters are directly next to one another, don't end up in the wrong line!

Take chances. There are a LOT of movies at SXSW, and the big headliners will be hard to get into often requiring 2-3 hour waits. Find something new, go in with an open mind. Be surprised. 

Look into the SX Express pass. It's essentially a fast pass. You can buy them at 9 am the day prior to the events in question, and you can skip the primary badge holder line with them. 

Film mentor sessions are a unique opportunity. But they're also very popular. If you want a one on one with an industry professional you can sign up ahead of time, but there is always ONE walk-up slot available and you can also waitlist. For future years, sign up in advance!

Other things to do in Austin

Austin has a lot to offer, but most of the advice seemed to focus on three things that Austin does particularly well: Tacos, BBQ, and booze. 

SXSW Tips Breakfast Tacos

Check out Dripping Springs for the distillery for Deep Eddy Vodka, and the Salt Lick

La BBQ is a preferred place with waits up to an hour, the also popular Franklins can have up to a 3-hour wait though. 

SXSW Insider Tips and Advice BBQ

Check out the Museum of the weird, in town in Austin, or explore Georgetown, a smaller historic town with great second hand and vintage stores.

A Few Must-Sees from SXSW 2019 

The panel also gave picks for what movies in this years program were must-sees: 

The Art of Self Defense, Porno, SaintFrancis, Romantic Comedy, and the Robert Rodriguez Film School event. 

SXSW is a long festival, that stretches far beyond the film portion so there is a ton to do. A few helpful tips and tricks can keep you sane as you navigate all there is to take in. 

Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

No Film School's podcast and editorial coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.     

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