Re: Austin notification timeline
This will be my 12th or 13th year, and it was never that way before. I'm not sure what has happened -- maybe it has had more attention from Scriptnotes, or maybe just more people are writing screenplays now.
For those who are on the fence, I can say that you WILL get into AMAZING panels. It's only the roundtables and the script-to-screen things that you need to sign up for in advance. In the past few years, there have begun to be lines to get into the Driskill Ballroom and other large rooms. But there are so many great panels all going on at once that you'll get into something you want to see.
(I sort of worry for them -- SXSW got so big and crowded that it truly was difficult to get into films or panels even with the full badge. AFF is nothing like that, and is still lots of fun... Just be aware that Saturday and Sunday are the most crowded days, and plan accordingly.)