I'm at SXSW right now -- one of the tech startups I advise, Signpost, had an extra pass. I was considering going anyway for the film aspect (one can just buy passes -- they're not too expensive) so I took advantage of the offer.
The only other film festival I've gone to is Sundance -- which is pretty chaotic and really packed -- I think Park City is simply too small to handle the volume. The weird thing for me about SXSW is that apparently it's (3) festivals all in one -- but it's really 1 festival because location-wise, the stuff is in the same place. It's a tech festival (they call it "interactive" -- I'm not even sure what that means), a film festival, and a music festival. The weird thing for me is throughout the day, people would say, "Nelson." or tap me or whatever and my initial thought would be, "I don't know anyone here." but I did! Quite a number of ex-Google / ex-Amazon folks are here so that's been quite a nice surprise to catch up with old faces.
The film element has definitely been much more muted so far. I'm hoping it picks up today as there are quite a bit of panels and the like. As a frame of reference, while I've only been here 1 day, but I have met (0) people so far that's associated in anyway with film. ZERO! All have been in tech. One other thing. There are startups everywhere! I was at a bar on the first night, got introduced to 6 different people and I think nearly every one had founded a tech company. Every one! I was telling Stu (from Signpost - he's also here) -- "Boy, it sure is tough running a startup." Maybe I shouldn't have said it someone running a startup, but it's true. There is so much noise out there to get out of the muck.
Oh, one other thought I had. I just came from the MIT Sports Analytics conference and when you're ostensibly at a tech conference -- my first thought was, "I need to start going to conferences where the male/female ratio isn't 80/20." It seems to have gotten better as the day wore on and more people checked in though -- but it was staggering at first. They actually have a panel on Sex at SXSW (or titled something similar to that.) Better get your game on -- the numbers are against you! (unless you're a girl I suppose, but it's not like hot girls are short of suitors anyway; they walk out their front door in L.A. and guys already are hitting on them.)
I'll also say that it's been since the days of Google since I've seen so many people on their laptops and phones (and now iPads.) People are literally everywhere on their computers -- tons of folks are sprawled out on the floors.
So far? Good I think. I met quite a number of people I suspect will be new friends which has already made the trip worthwhile. Ok, off to Day 2.