From film and television to space and the cosmos, we’ve gathered just a small handful of the conference session talks we’re excited to see from this year’s SXSW virtual festival. With a bevy of choices to choose from, with topics like workplace culture to the cannabis industry, we plucked out our choices based on what we think Nerdophiles readers would love to see. Times are all in PST.

Keep in mind, although many of these sessions are available at the same time, they are available on-demand throughout the day that they air.

For those with an Online Pass, get yourself registered for some of these exciting new events. For those without passes, SXSW is still open for those who want to attend their virtual event this year!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

LGBTQ+ Representation in TV: Genera+ion & It’s A Sin
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

Join HBO Max LGBTQ+ creators Russell T Davies (highly-anticipated limited series, It’s A Sin) and Zelda and Daniel Barnz (upcoming dramedy, Genera+ion) for a moderated fireside chat covering topics including how every generation forges its identity through art; the experiences Russell, Daniel and Zelda have pulled from their own lives to create these two projects with specific viewpoints about attitudes towards sexual identity in the 80s and today; how the LGBTQ+ community is represented in their shows, and why championing more LGTBQ+ representation onscreen and behind-the-camera is still urgent and necessary.

Shondaland: Innovating Beyond TV
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

Known for shifting the content business model with its unprecedented move to Netflix, Shondaland continues to grow beyond television production. Executives across tv/film creative development, Shondaland Audio podcast and short-form content divisions, and editorial will discuss how the company is making a concerted effort to explore and create synergistic content across the company’s ecosystem. Shondaland has long been known for its innovation and looks to continue disrupting the industry as it broadens its content offerings with partners Hearst Digital Networks, iHeart, streaming giant Netflix, and beyond. Shondaland is a leading content creation company founded by award-winning writer and producer Shonda Rhimes.

See The Cosmos – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

This year NASA will launch its next great telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, into space. Built, tested, and assembled by NASA (partnering with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency) Webb will be the largest and most complex space telescope ever to launch into space and an engineering feat like no other. As the scientific successor to the beloved Hubble Space Telescope and 100x more powerful, Webb, will look back 13.5 billion years to explore uncharted territories in the first epoch of galaxy formation–a part of our universe never seen before. Webb will also have the amazing capability to study exoplanet atmospheres in unprecedented detail. The tennis-court sized observatory is designed to answer some of humankind’s most puzzling questions. #Seethecosmos

90 Minute Film School
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

An opportunity to hear from 6 film industry professionals in production, distribution and exhibition on how to get your film funded, made and seen. #90minfilmschool

Beyond the Binge: Developing Original Content ’21
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

At a time where the demand for new original content has reached its peak, new players are stepping in to connect the dots in the creation of entertainment properties that will inspire viewers to not just watch, but “binge” and keep audiences engaged beyond the final episode. Narrative storytelling from short form to virtual reality has emerged as further extensions of the stories that audiences are hungry to engage with. This demand for binge-worthy content is opening the playing field to a much wider range of studios, publishers, and content creators to dive into original content development. Industry experts across all sides of the original content development landscape will discuss how rights acquisitions, packaging projects, pitching, hosting, and ultimately producing original content.

We Live in a Universe of Horrors
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

There are many deadly and mysterious phenomena in the universe — from powerful gamma-ray bursts and invisible dark matter to exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) that literally rain glass. Join NASA scientists and communicators in a panel discussion about some of the real and terrifying marvels beyond our solar system. They will expose some of the dangers lurking in the darkness of space and reveal the process of communicating these chilling phenomena by intersecting science and visual arts. #NASAHorrors

From Screen-to-Screen: Adapting Games to Film/TV
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

After years of substandard adaptations, video games have surpassed books and podcasts to become arguably the hottest form of underlying rights for hit movies and TV shows. Sonic The Hedgehog brought in over $300m worldwide, the heavily game-inspired The Witcher was a global hit, and there are adaptations of The Last of Us, Uncharted, Halo, and Resident Evil coming very soon. In this panel, a number of industry practitioners In this panel moderated by a top entertainment lawyer, break down what works when adapting video games to film and TV. Topics covered will include: What kind of video game intellectual property is most suited for adaptation into a movie or TV series? What do producers need to know when working with video game companies? How can producers engage with game fans?

Reimagining Entertainment Through Mobile Gaming
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

Mobile gaming is the next frontier of entertainment, with the power to drop players into their favorite universes to interact with beloved characters and storylines, and take their fandom to the next level. Because of mobile games, players have the ability to weave their own narratives within well-known arcs, all while forging connections with other enthusiasts across the world. Join leading mobile games company Scopely, along with other gaming industry leaders to dive into how these companies are leveraging iconic IP and reimagining it across different game genres to create these successful titles. Panelists will provide examples of home-runs and flops when it comes to strategy, and how they have innovated within this multi-billion dollar market. #mobilegames

The Rise of Tabletop Games During the Pandemic
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

When the pandemic first hit the US in March, social distancing and virtual game nights began to become the new norm. To supply this demand, gaming companies had to quickly figure out solutions to create connections — even at a distance. Hit tabletop games creator Exploding Kittens pivoted their games to be compatible with social distancing protocols and video chat to provide a sense of connection when the world was safest in isolation. In this session, Carly McGinnis, Head of Production, Sales, and Logistics, will delve into how the company continued to provide connection during disconnection, how this will impact the tabletop game industry in the future, and why the future of tabletop gameplay will evolve.

From Moonlight to The Underground Railroad: Barry Jenkins & Composer Nicholas Britell
Streaming starts at 8:15 AM

Join us for a conversation with Academy Award® winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins and with Academy Award® nominated and Emmy® Award-winning composer Nicholas Britell (Succession), where they will discuss the joy, delicate nuances, challenges, and unexpected discoveries from their work together. The pair will talk about their unique creative process in building a singular audiovisual identity with a specific focus on their upcoming Amazon Original limited series, The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Jenkins and Britell first collaborated on Moonlight, which won the Academy Award® for Best Picture. During the making of Moonlight, the duo formed an inimitable rapport that brought them back together again for If Beale Street Could Talk. The Underground Railroad will stream in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Amazon Prime Video in 2021.

Keynote: Stacey Abrams in Conversation with N.K. Jemisin
Streaming starts at 10:55 AM

Stacey Abrams is the New York Times bestselling author of Our Time is Now and Lead from the Outside, an entrepreneur, and political leader. After serving as Minority Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams became the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia. Over the course of her career, she has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues.

N.K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugos, for her Broken Earth trilogy. Her most recent novel is the New York Times bestselling book The City We Became. She is a 2020 MacArthur Fellow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Conversation with Desus Nice and The Kid Mero
Streaming starts at 9:25 AM

A conversation with multi-talented comedians, authors of the New York Times Best Seller God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons from the Bronx, co-hosts of Showtime’s first late-night talk show Desus & Mero and the long-running Bodega Boys podcast, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero.

Incorporating Choreography and Verse Into Blindspotting
Streaming starts at 1:25 AM

A discussion with the Blindspotting series creators and writers Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, lead actress Jasmine Cephas Jones, director Aurora Guerrero, cinematographer Tarin Anderson, and renowned choreographers Lil Buck and Jon Boogz on incorporating choreography and verse into the new television series Blindspotting.

Clerk and Twerk with Kevin Smith and Malcolm Ingram
Streaming starts at 6:25 PM

Clerk is an examination and celebration of the life of Kevin Smith – and an exploration on how one kid from Jersey completely transformed the cultural landscape. A journey which began 25 years ago at the Sundance Film festival where his DIY film Clerks, financed on credit cards took the film world by storm. Leading to a career as a filmmaker, podcaster, stand-up comedian, author, comic book writer, television producer – a veritable pop culture icon with a very large and loyal fanbase. #LIVEEVENT

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Ocean Storytelling with James Cameron & Brian Skerry
Streaming starts at 8:25 AM

Join world-renowned filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer at Large James Cameron and National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Brian Skerry on a guided adventure into the deep blue to discuss the upcoming Disney+ original documentary series Secrets of the Whales. Filmed over three years in 24 locations, avid underwater conservationists James Cameron and Brian Skerry join forces to deliver an epic, awe-inspiring look at the incredible life and culture of whales and how the world’s largest mammals are facing the challenge of an ever-changing ocean. Moderated by OceanXplorers executive producer Orla Doherty.

A Conversation with Noah Hawley and Andrew Bird
Streaming starts at 11:55 AM

Set in Kansas City 1950, Fargo’s fourth installment follows two crime syndicates jockeying to control an alternate economy of exploitation and graft while fighting for a piece of the American dream. Join Noah Hawley (creator / executive producer / director / writer) and GRAMMY ® Award-nominated musician Andrew Bird for a not-to-be-missed conversation about how a concert in Austin lead to Bird’s acting debut in Fargo. Moderated by Whitney Friedlander. All four installments of the critically acclaimed limited series are currently available to stream on FX on Hulu.

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Conversation with the Russo Brothers & Elizabeth Banks
Streaming starts at 9:25 AM

Join us for a fireside chat between visionary directors/producers Anthony and Joe Russo (Welcome to Collinwood, Arrested Development, Avengers: Endgame, Relic, Mosul, and Cherry) and acclaimed actress, director, writer and producer Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels, The Hunger Games, and Shrill). Elizabeth will talk to the Russo Brothers about their new film, Cherry, as well as the work they are doing with their company, AGBO. Cherry stars Tom Holland and is based on the critically acclaimed debut novel by Nico Walker. It will be released in theaters in February and on Apple TV+ in March.

Keep up with our SXSW Conference and Film Festival coverage all week!

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