SXSW 2018 Recap: What We Couldn’t Have Expected


As we look back on SXSW 2018, it is hard to ignore some of the most innovative and unique happenings brought to our backyard this March. Activations, celebrities and creators alike flocked to Austin for a week full of events surrounding the industries of technology, music, film, media, marketing and advertising, journalism and much more. Our very own Founder and Managing Partner, James Trumbly, was lucky enough to attend many of these sessions and could not help but gush about the amazing times he had this year. Can you blame him? Below are some of HMG’s favorite picks for SXSW’s most interesting and even impromptu events.

Elon Musk: To many people’s surprise, an email was sent out the night before SXSW’s launch with an important message for all tech, media, and science gurus alike, Elon Musk was to appear for a surprise keynote Q&A with Westworld’s co-creator Jonathan Nolan at ACL Live the next day. Tickets quickly sold out and people poured into the venue to hear about the future of Musk’s endeavors and his vision for the direction of our world as a whole. In the beginning, a video promoting the success of SpaceX’s launch of a Tesla into space was shown to grab viewers attention and introduce the innovative energy the conversation hoped to spark for the kickoff of the week. Some of the topics of the session included colonizing mars, artificial intelligence, energy efficiency and Musk’s own transportation and technology company Tesla. Musk mentioned a possible carbon tax and his plans to transform the transportation industry in coming years. Although we didn’t gain any specific details about how he aims to develop these new methods and technologies, individuals were inspired by his work and engineering in a humanitarian framework.

Westworld: HBO went above and beyond this SXSW, recreating a duplicate of Westworld’s own town, Sweetwater, complete with a general store, barbershop, post office, saloon and several dramatizations tying in the show’s storyline. Participants began in downtown Austin at the Delos headquarters, it was here where personality information was processed and sent over to the park location in preparation of each person’s arrival. Individuals were given white or black hats based on their test results, then bussed to the town of Sweetwater where they started their journey in the train car that takes them on their first step into the new world. Once they were out of the train car and welcomed through the doors of Delos, they were completely immersed in an old west environment. 60 actors filled the space, interacting with participants as if they were townspeople and cast from the show. Over 450 pages of original script were written in order to create an authentic experience for visitors. The activation did not fail to incorporate personalization, as it greeted each group of guests with personalized letters from hosts. Like a true old ghost town, you can grab a glass of whiskey and sit back as you are entranced by this SXSWestworld reality.


Bill Murray: Although we didn’t plan on Mr.Murray making an appearance at SXSW this year, we weren’t surprised when he took to the streets of Austin likely to promote his show at The Long Center on Sunday, March 18, 2018, where he recited poetry and stories with cellist Jan Vogler. The actor showed up on the steps of The Driskill Hotel on Sixth Street on Saturday evening to recite a poem in classic Bill Murray fashion; wearing overalls and a bucket hat. Passerbys immediately took to social media and the crowd quickly grew to watch the spectacle unfold. Murray was also in town to attend the premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of The Dogs” that evening and stop by The University of Texas’ Belo Center for New Media for a dedication that same afternoon. Like many years in the past, Murray paid a visit to the town that is known to be weird. A perfect fit for this actor’s eccentric self.

Like Austin has proven time and time again, opportunities like these where we are able to welcome numerous innovators to our city, though luckily not far and few in between, are so valuable to our culture here. These are only a couple of the hundreds of occurrences that SXSW brought us this year. We hope that the conferences and events brought you nothing but interest and excitement. What were your favorites and what are you looking forward to in the future of some of our most fast-paced industries?!

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