What to See at the 2015 South by Southwest Conference

By Phill Powell

South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the nation’s premier events for all things music, film and interactive culture, is now taking place in Austin, Texas – and DMA is there.

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South by Southwest 2015 is expected to draw crowds even larger than its 2014 attendance totals, when 133,000 attended and 152,000 experienced it online.

For this year’s show, a record 150 feature films are set to be shown. Plus, musical acts from all around the world will take to the 90+ SXSW stages in downtown Austin and thrill festival crowds, who have also come to see the latest offerings in interactive entertainment.

Like Comic-Con, SXSW even attracts A-list celebrities promoting their own upcoming projects, or looking for new ones.

SXSW 2015: Interactive (March 13-17)
SXSW has seen some incredible speakers give keynote addresses, including visionaries such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Chelsea Clinton, Mark Cuban and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Often, SXSW speakers become household names, partly because of their appearance at SXSW.

SXSW 2015 Panelists
SXSW has a long history of putting on great panel discussions with notable figures. Here are the top panels for 2015:

How to Remain Relevant in Today’s Digital Age Hosted by Charles Barkley, NBA Hall-of-Fame’er and one of the funniest and most insightful sportscasters going, as his Emmy win backs up. Who knows what Sir Charles will say next? Show up and find out!

Creator Activism: A Discussion with Robert Kirkman The mastermind behind The Walking Dead graphic novels talks about opening Skybound Entertainment, a company where creators retain ownership and creative control.

Inc. Presents: The Honest Company Inc. Magazine editor Lindsay Blakely interviews actress Jessica Alba, who started her own line of home-care products that have been leading the industry in sales.

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Charles Barkley will make an appearance at the 2015 SXSW conference.

A Conversation with Senator Rand Paul It’s bound to be interesting (and possibly controversial) when Kentucky Senator Rand Paul leads a discussion about how tech has transformed modern politics and what will be the future of the laws that govern tech policy.

The VEEP Speaks Julia Louis-Dreyfuss takes the stage to talk about her hot new show (Veep) and one or two others you may have heard of (like Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live).

Russell Brand’s Revolution Will Be Televised British wildman Russell Brand is lots of things: actor, comic, radio host, author and social activist. In this expansive interview, he discusses his strategy for using social media to affect social change. (Will he discuss his tabloid marriage to singer Katy Perry?)

Breaking the News in the Age of Snapchat Legendary reporter/anchor Dan Rather rose to fame covering the JFK assassination. Decades later he’s back to discuss how tech has changed the U.S. media and journalism itself. Joined by Dan Pfeiffer, a former top strategist to President Obama.

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SXSW always hosts interesting panel discussions. One of last year’s panels featured Mindy Kaling of TV’s “The Mindy Project” and “The Office” (second from left).

SXSW has become a huge event that features several different conferences. SXSW Interactive runs from March 13 through 17, while SXSW Film takes place from March 13 through 21, with SXSW Music runs from March 17 through 22. Check back here for more coverage of the conference.

SXSW Edu: Having Fun in The Playground
SXSW means thousands of booths, displays and exhibitions. This year, Digital Media Academy is featured at SXSW. DMA’s team is here as part of SXSWedu (the conference’s education track) to show attendees how cool and fun it is to work on creative tech projects, such as 3D printing a personalized keychain, building a bubble maker, designing your own sword for Minecraft™ and writing computer code.

There’s another reason DMA is at SXSW 2015. DMA is always on the lookout for creative new methods of instruction, as it prepares for its own big event: the 2015 summer camp season. We’re only months away from the start, and preparations are now in full swing for DMA’s greatest summer ever.

DMA also offers nine special, two-week academies. These are in-depth explorations of tech subjects. Have you ever wanted to learn to make apps for iphone and ipad? DMA has an Austin academy for that.

nick-cage-selfieNicholas Cage shares a moment with a fan at last year’s SXSW.