2017 SXSW Conference & Festivals | Photo by Samantha Burkardt

Hawaii creatives: You're invited to SXSW 2018

Summit + SXSW

Place Austin
Text Summit Staff

South By Southwest (SXSW) dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.

In a set of five creative content industry meetings held across Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island, South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) is seeking Hawaiʻi-based involvement for its 2018 principal event (March 9-18) in Austin, Texas within the interactive, gaming, film, music and comedy sectors.

The first of these meetings for creative content professionals will take place on August 7 at 6 p.m. at the BoxJelly co-working space in Kakaʻako.

Now in its 31st year, SXSW has attracted between 30-50 delegates from Hawaiʻi, annually, in recent years and has featured several bands from the islands in its prestigious concert showcase series. But most of the delegates to SXSW 2017 were from the tech and marketing sectors, according to SXSW Senior Regional Development Manager, Phil Tripp, who has been interacting with Australia, New Zealand and Hawaiʻi since 2002. As a result, Tripp is inviting technology participants in addition to the regular film and music attendees at a series of SXSW Meet’n’Greets to be held in Honolulu (8/7), Kahului (8/14), Hilo (8/16), Kona (8/21) and Līhuʻe (8/24) to gather them into a larger Hawaiʻi-based presence at the 2018 festival.

“We’re looking for contemporary musicians and bands to enter our 2000 showcase program (March 13-18), filmmakers to submit for juried screenings (March 9-17) and interactive multimedia developers, imagineers, start-ups, Internet/app/software entrepreneurs, gamers, venture capitalists, advertising and marketing pros, incubators and coders from Hawaiʻi to join other propeller-heads from more than 60 countries at SXSW from March 9-14,” says Tripp. “All three major components of the festival and conference are great opportunities for Hawaiʻi-based creatives to network, broaden contacts and show their wares to an eager audience of global delegates. And, over the past few years, we’ve added an educational conference and evolved a week-long comedy festival.”

Hawaiʻi’s first showcase artist at SXSW was HAPA in the late ’90s. So far the largest presence at SXSW for Hawaiʻi music was in 2009 when John Cruz, Anuhea, David Tamaoka, Pimpbot and One Right Turn played a series of performnces. In 2010, Anuhea, The Green and Pimpbot returned with Kona, Tavana, Sabrina and Yahiowa 13 at a trade fair stand organized by World Sound / One Hawaiʻi and supported by Roy's Restaurants and Hawaiʻi’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT).

In the past few years, the 30-40 annual attendees from Hawaiʻi have mirrored the shifting direction of SXSW from its strictly music beginnings into a convergence of technology, creative content and film. These have included: Occupop, the Hawaiian Intl. Film Festival, POW! WOW!, Lux, Wremix, eHawaii.gov, Spotify, the University of Hawaiʻi, the Maui County Film Office, Hawaiian Electric, Kamehameha Schools, Servco Hawaiʻi, Makaha Studios and WorldSound among some one hundred other island companies over the past decade.

“But we want to open up SXSW even more to the rich variety of tech resources from the islands; hence these meetings, introducing both invited veterans and potential first-timers,” says Tripp. “Hawaiʻi has developed its own unique base of online and technological hubs—Silicon Islands, if you will—which are creating new applications, developing high tech businesses and nurturing creative talent that promises to eclipse the former agricultural exports base of revenue. Supplanting sugar, pineapple and mac nut, brainpower is the renewable and sustainable export of Hawaiʻi’s future.”

Tripp has been communicating with DBEDT for several years and usually makes two trips a year to Hawaiʻi for SXSW from his home in Australia.

“DBEDT has been very receptive in our meetings over the past decade about using SXSW as a launchpad, but were hampered by budgetary, time and logistical restraints, partially due to changing governments and economic conditions,” Tripp says. “But they’ve looked at the Australian experience with our government export arm, AUSTRADE, in 2002 kickstarting a long line of over 500 musical acts in showcase performances, trade fair stands and special events. This success evolved to a massive Aussie interactive tech presence which was promoted in 2017 with a major stand, start-up pitch events, networking meetings, an investors lounge and many other initiatives including tourism promotion through virtual reality headsets. Equally, the Australian film industry has taken advantage of the juried film festival format to premiere and market a long line of features, documentaries and shorts over the years. Hawaiʻi faces the same challenges of other emerging 21st-century Pacific economies: distance, time lag and visibility in the market. SXSW has been evolving with the times and we want Hawaiʻi to be a part of this exciting expansion.”

The Meet’n’Greets, listed below with venues and times, are aimed to make it easier for those who wish to submit their work to succeed by interfacing with veterans who have blazed a trail in the past, as well as to prepare for the logistics of attending. There is no charge, but attendees must RSVP as space is limited, either by email at: tripp@sxsw.com or text (512) 669-3321. More details are online at the Facebook page for the event, HAWAII SXSW PRESENCE .

August 7, Honolulu, The Box Jelly: 307 Kamani St, Kakaʻako; 6-8 p.m.
August 14, Kahului, The University of Hawaiʻi Maui College: Kupaʻa Bldg, Rm 104, 310 W Kaʻahumanu Ave; 5:30-8 p.m.
August 16, Hilo, The Naniloa Grand Hotel: 93 Banyan Dr; 6-8 p.m.
August 21, Kona, The Sheraton Keauhou: 78-128 Ehukai St; 6-8 p.m.
August 24, Līhuʻe, Kauaʻi Beach Resort: 4331 Kauaʻi Beach Dr; 6-8 p.m.

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