USA Network brought the world of MR. ROBOT to this year’s festival with a custom, series-inspired footprint. From Friday, March 11 – Monday, March 14, attendees became immersed in the fsociety space, complete with a one-of-a-kind 100-foot Ferris wheel, hacker den and retro arcade.
The return to SXSW marks a “coming home” for MR. ROBOT as the festival hosted the world premiere during the 2015 event – walking away with the coveted Audience Award in the Episodics category. From the start, fans of the now Golden Globe® Award winning series have been passionate and engaged; all of which allowed USA to bring such a massive activation to the festival. Overall, this weekend gave the network a chance to thank the fans who helped kick off a great first season whilst celebrating the return of the new season.
Complete elements of the fsociety Coney Island arcade experience include:
ROBOT FERRIS WHEEL – A nod to the series’ iconic backdrop, the first of its kind, 100-foot Ferris wheel will stand in the heart of downtown Austin (West 4th Street and Congress). From 11:00am – 10:00pm, fans can board one of the 20-branded gondolas for a full, complimentary 360-degree view of the city.
HACKER ARCADE – Similar to the underground fsociety lair, the recreated arcade will feature popular retro games for attendees.
PHOTO BOOTH – To become one of the fsociety hackers, festival-goers can stop by the provocative ROBOT photo booth and share the creed of the 99%. They’ll be immersed in the story and stand alongside the hacktivists behind the masks.
THEMED GIVEAWAY – In tandem with the 90’s style of the drama series, consumers can visit the screen-printing t-shirt bar and walk away with their own wearable, limited-edition custom ROBOT prints.
GRAFFITI ART INSTALLATION – Standing 8-feet tall, the freestanding art wall will display ROBOT fsociety wild postings and stencil artwork.
HACKER LOUNGE – To unwind, fans can relax in the vintage, basement-inspired hacker lounge with monitors playing the series’ pilot episode daily.
MR. ROBOT SXSW PANEL
Mr. Robot blasted onto the scene at SXSW last year to premiere it’s pilot. It won the 2015 SXSW audience award and went on to become a cult phenomenon. The show follows a young cyber-security engineer Elliott living in New York who is a vigilante hacker by night. He meets an anarchist “Mr. Robot” who recruits him for his team of hackers called the “fsociety”.
I was lucky enough to sit in on a panel discussion with creator Sam Esmail and actors, Rami Malek (Elliot) and Christian Slater (Mr. Robot). Before the panel started the lights when down and the season one recap started, “WARNING: This recap will spoil all of season one’s plot twists. Seriously. Every single one of them.” They weren’t kidding. If you haven’t seen Mr. Robot yet then one, what are you doing??? Go watch the entire season right now! And two, if some asshole posts this SXSW recap from season one on youtube don’t watch it.
Sam Esmail talked a lot about why he wanted to make this show and it was mainly because growing up he and all of his friends were big hacker nerds and he wanted to make something that felt authentic and wasn’t cheesy when portraying the cyber hacking world. They used cyber security consultants and FBI consultants, as well as psychiatrist to be as authentic as possible. This show is important because it is about the world we live in today. Esmail said he fully sided with Apple on their ongoing fight with security and the FBI. “Privacy is extremely important but we are living in a world where that is fading away at an alarming rate. I don’t think people realize how important this case really is.
Esmail, an Egyptain American, said that going back to Egypt after the people’s revolution was critical in helping to develop Elliott’s character. He said he was watching pissed off family members use technology for human rights and social issues and it was empowering to see people rise up and take back their rights. When Christain Slater and Rami Malek were asked if they learned anything while filming, Christain Slater said, “I feel old, technology moves faster than what I can keep up with. It was changing constantly as we were filming. My level of awareness of technology has increased and updating passwords is super important.” Everyone laughed. He also added that it’s funny to see people’s reaction when he and Rami Malek travel together. Which is pretty funny but only if you have seen the show. Rami Malek said the homework was insane. He was having to learn real code so when it was on screen it was really something that cyber-security engineers or hackers would use.
Seriously if you haven’t seen Mr. Robot and you have any interest in cyber-hacking, cyber-security and our privacy issues you should watch this show before season two starts. I really don’t think you will be disappointed!
The second season of the Golden Globe® Award winning MR. ROBOT will return to USA Network this summer.