The first wave of crowds for SXSW started swarming through downtown Friday morning. The interactive focus of the festival is what brought Hans Huseklepp and Anne Gundersen a couple from Norway to Austin - but that’s not all.
"It’s the variety I guess, the mx of a lot of different people a lot of different topics - good food great people,” said Huseklepp.
And strange sights ... like a giant white buffalo that attracted Huseklepp, Gundersen and several others who walked by the intersection of Red River and Caesar Chavez. The beast was built to promote a new TV show - and took about 6 months to design. Site manager Trevor Christensen said they wanted to go big for SXSW.
"We have a two and a half story white buffalo - set up in the middle of town, with glowing red eyes and smoking emanating from them. So I think it will be an eye catcher out here,” said Christensen.
Christensen's team also built a full scale mock up from the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul series. Curly fries were served up to fans - which even attracted those who typically try to avoid downtown during the festival.
"not a big fan of the traffic and the hassle of parking - stuff like that down here, but if it’s your first time, go of it,” said Josh Lippold who stood in line on his lunch break.
A few blocks away at Congress and 5th, it will be surf up. Crews were still busy Friday building a beach party water park for the Animal Kingdom site.
For those who can’t go big, there were other options. Performers and marketers have set up at several downtown street corners.
Promoters with HBO decided to promote their shows, VEEP and Silicon Valley with its hit Game of Thrones. A work crew with Unit 9, a production House from LA, is putting together three escape rooms, with the show themes, for fans to run thorough. Those who make it out get to sit on the Iron Throne.
Another change up for this year is the new location for the Fader Fort. It’s going to be a building in east Austin instead of being along the rail line. The venue was moved up a block to the intersection of Waller St and 6th. Construction was still going on at the site, which is smaller and will limit the number of fans who will be able to get in.
A few blocks away, on 6th St the Pandora stage is also going up. It’s just one of several spots to catch new musical artists and premieres of new movies. Film producers - like Michael Cuomo, Myriam Schroeter, and Ashley Van Egeren say Austin provides more than just a chance at box office success.
"I think with our film, the light of the moon, we wanted a place that would really give us a voice. As creators of independent movies, and independent film, we wanted to make sure our story would be heard and so SXSW was definitely at the top of our list as we as other festivals like Sundance but we are overjoyed to be here,” said Schroeter.
The film, Light of the Moon, also promises a Texas twist. It features Houston area actress Stephanie Beatriz and after the Sunday showing the cast and crew will do a solidarity march from the stateside theater to support survivors of sexual assault.