Two new documentaries tell the story of Fyre Festival

Hallie Lauer | News Editor


If you had twitter in April of 2017, you more than likely saw the memes and distraught tweets that were coming out of the Bahamas during the “luxury music festival” Fyre Festival. For those of you that were doing a social media cleanse, Netflix and Hulu summarized the best of it and explained the whole story in their respective documentaries.

Fyre Fraud, a Hulu documentary about the failed Fyre Festival and Netflix’s documentary Fyre both hit streaming sites mere days apart, and now everyone is arguing over which is better and which you should spend your time on.

However, to really understand the entirety of the disaster that was the Fyre Festival, you have to watch both the Netflix and the Hulu documentaries. While they tell the same story, they approach it from two completely different angles, but actually end up complimenting each other and telling a full, complete story.

Here is the bumper sticker synopsis for those of you haven’t heard of Fyre. Rapper Ja Rule and self-proclaimed entrepreneur Billy McFarland came up with the idea to throw “an immersive music festival.”

However, it turns out that neither of them had any real event planning experience, and chaos ensued. Chaos and fraud to be exact.

The Netflix doc shows more about the great failure that was trying to plan a music festival in six months, on an island with next-to-no infrastructure. This one was more visually pleasing, with many, many shots of McFarland and Ja Rule riding on jet skis in the Bahamas. It was centered mainly on the actual festival itself.

The Hulu documentary, however, goes more into McFarland’s background of scams and cons, which date back to grade school. It also incorporates more of the background on how the idea of Fyre Festival spiraled out of control to be the failure that it ended up being.

Also, the Hulu documentary is the only one with an on-camera interview with McFarland. So much Billy McFarland awkwardly staring at the camera. So. Much. They would do these weird cuts where McFarland would stop speaking and they would keep the camera rolling and just zoom in on his facial expressions. I’m not sure what the goal of these shots was, but if they were to make the audience feel incredibly uncomfortable in McFarland’s presence, they succeeded.

Both documentaries used relatively the same footage from social media, however, the Netflix documentary showed more of what happened once guests arrived on the island.

The best parts though, were the interviews with former employees of both Fyre and the ad agency Fyre used to promote the festival.

What happens in these documentaries though is astounding. The amount of straight up lying these people did is incredible. They honestly are luck that things hadn’t gotten any worse and no one died. Sure some rich people were upset, but the situation honestly had the ability to become disastrous.

It is incredibly fascinating in the Hulu documentary to watch the camera crew ask McFarland why he didn’t do simple things that could have alleviated so much of the pressure on him, and would’ve made the festival less of a failure. McFarland, in these instances, is silent or bumbling.

It is fascinating to watch him deny that he conned everyone. deny that he committed fraud and deny that he did anything wrong. Both documentaries end with video clips of McFarland starting another business, both insinuating heavily that he is just working on another scam.

All that aside, I can’t recommend you watch just one of these. You have to watch them both to get the full picture. Plus, everyone loves a story of a conman. This one just happens to be true.