I went to SXSW! This is exciting because it’s an event which has grown increasingly relevant and influential over the last decade, has spread into every corner of every news website I read, and this year…I was there.

FXHOME kindly flew me there and back, accompanied by my colleagues Kirstie, Josh and Andrea. In summary: Austin is wonderful. SXSW is weird and confused but mostly good.

Observation #1: Planes have magically got better since I last flew to the US. They have charging ports for tablets (and sometimes laptops). They sometimes have affordable internet access for the entire flight. The seats are actually comfortable, even in economy. On the way back we were on a Dreamliner, which has very clever polarising windows and ambient lighting, resulting in the first time I’ve ever been able to sleep on a plane. And, thus….no jet lag. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was fun, but for the first time the travelling wasn’t an interminable chore.

Observation #2: People in Austin are super friendly. Great atmosphere throughout the week. Small city feel in a biggish city. My British sensibilities still meant I was suspicious of people who stopped to say hi to me on the street, always assuming they were looking for an angle. Turned out they were just saying hi. Same happened in Marrakech. I need to be less immediately distrustful of strangers. The news does bad things to my brain.

Observation #3: Tacos are yummy, when made properly. We went to a Taco Breakfast film networking event and the steak fajitas were amazing. So good, in fact, that I immediately replicated them on my return to the UK, with authentic success. Here’s the recipe I more-or-less followed for green chilli steak tacos.

Observation #4: Meeting Andrew and Ben Adams in the flesh, having conversed online for about 12 years, was a real treat. They’re exactly how I expected them to be.

Observation #5: Staying in a rented house was infinitely better than in an overly-air conditioned hotel.

Observation #6: Lines at SXSW evening events are horrendous. If you don’t have a contact to get you on the proper guest list, just don’t bother showing up. We had a contact on the final night, and it was awesome.

Observation #7: Sitting near Andrea Wake is to court a drink-related disaster.

A more official report will be popping up on HitFilm.com, probably tomorrow.

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