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SXSW Without A Badge

Updated: Friday, March 7 2014, 03:55 PM CST

A badge gets you a bag and complete access to the SXSW Film Festival. This is the first time Nikolai Ronningen has been in this line.   

"I love Austin. I grew up here and I've always wanted to do SXSW officially," said Ronningen. 

This means he opened his wallet, wide. 

"$600," said Ronningen. 

But, according to the experts you can do the film festival for a fraction of the cost of a badge. 

"We think about that every year. How can we make it easier for locals to come and take part in it?" said Jarod Neece a senior programmer for SXSW. 

He helps pick the 133 feature films screening at SXSW. 

"We sell $10 tickets to all films if there is space available," said Neece. 

Space, is the key. You don't need a white board, but with a plan you can see just about everything on the film festival lineup. 

"Try to get in line early," said Holly Herrick with the Austin Film Society. 

For locals she has this advice: 

- Arrive at least an hour early

- Go to the bigger theaters like the Paramount, Vimeo or Marchesa

- Avoid the first weekend 

"So, I'll go on Wednesday or Thursday rather than on Saturday of the first weekend," said Herrick. 

Another strategy is to pay for access with your time. 

"This year we're going to have over 4,000 volunteers to help us throughout the nine days. Those people earn their credentials that way, just by helping us out and working a couple of shifts and going and enjoying the festival the rest of the time," said Neece. 

But, Nikolai Ronningen says he's still banking on his badge. 

"Do you think it's worth it?" asked reporter Bettie Cross. 

"I'll find out," said the first time badge buyer. 

Locals can also see many of the SXSW films without going downtown and having to deal with the crowds and chaos. The Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane in South Austin and the Alamo Village on Anderson Lane in North Austin are both showing SXSW films. The Marchesa Theater is another official SXSatellite venue. $10 bucks gets you in and you won't be competing with any out-of-towners for those seats. 

If you think you'll see more than eight films, you can also buy an $80 film wristband and see as many SXSW films as you can fit into your schedule over the nine day festival that runs from March 7-15.

By Bettie Cross

SXSW Without A Badge

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