Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fyre
Unless you’ve been sequestered on a remote island previously owned by Pablo Escobar (too soon?), then you must have heard the buzz about the newest duo of documentaries produced by streaming moguls Netflix and Hulu about the great downfall that was Fyre Festival. Both documentaries outline this music festival, which was set to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in April and May 2017 as a promotion for a new app called Fyre, founded by Billy McFarland with the help of rapper Ja Rule. Ultimately, the festival hype heavily outweighed the reality, leading to disastrous results and jail-time for Billy McFarland, while Ja Rule got off scot-free!?! So which documentary should you watch? Here are the top 5 differences!
#5: Netflix Goes Micro, Hulu Goes Macro
The biggest difference between the two documentaries in terms of their structure is their separate and unique approach to storytelling. Netflix dives deeper into the logistical details surrounding planning and execution (or lack thereof), following a more story-driven plot and focusing on the producers, ground workers and industry professionals directly involved with the festival. Hulu on the other hand sets up McFarland as the main character by looking into his upbringing, followed by a macro look at the factors that lead to the festival’s demise such as social media, influencers and millennial culture. Both recount McFarland’s post-festival trial, return to criminal activity and ultimate sentence, so whichever approach you prefer, the two actually compliment each other and watching both simply emphasizes the fuel that went into this catastrophic Fyre.
#4: The Greater Message
The level of absurdity at the forefront of these documentaries, like the unrealistic decision-making, the delusion and the trickery at hand, will definitely make you laugh. It’s like Ben Meiselas, a partner at Geragos & Geragos, puts it in “Fyre Fraud”, “It would be perplexing and funny if it wasn’t criminal and it is criminal. But it still is perplexing. And still a little but funny, but still horrible.” That being said, there is a greater message at hand in both films. Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud” zones in on the role of influencers and social media in the incident, with director Jenner Furst (according to E! News) aiming to create “a bigger thinkpiece about our generation that was a cautionary tale with deep implications that relate to our political system, to our current president… something far beyond just a meme quality.” Netflix’s story-driven plot also covers these generational concerns, but leads to a more personal message about the horrific effects of this festival on the Bahamian locals like Maryann Rolle, a restaurant owner who ended up feeding everyone last-minute, depleting all her personal savings. Thankfully the film lead to a GoFundMe for her!
#3: Different Perspectives Through Interviews
There are some interview crossovers between both films, for example they each spoke to festival attendee Seth Crossno, as well as the man behind the FyreFestivalFraud Twitter account, former employees of McFarland from both Fyre and Magnises and journalists and industry specialists from outlets like The New York Times and Billboard. The difference is that Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud” interviewed influencers like Austin Mills and Alyssa Lynch who were at the festival and revealed some new information, like the fact that Lynch actually did get a luxurious Villa at the festival. Netflix on the other hand met with Marc Weinstein, a music festival consultant who shared exclusive emails, event producer Andy King, who exposed McFarland demanding he offer a customs official sexual favours for a supply of water and executives from Jerry Media, which leads us to our next point.
#2: Jerry Media Produced Netflix’s Doc.
As is revealed in both documentaries, Jerry Media, who you may know as the hugely popular Instagram account f**kjerry, was behind the social media presence that propelled Fyre Festival to the center of everyone’s news feeds in 2017. Whether it was the eye-catching orange tile that celebrities posted at the same time or Kendall Jenner’s insanely expensive Instagram post promoting the festival lineup, Jerry Media’s expertly crafted – and occasionally questionable i.e. deleting negative comments – promotional efforts and social media influence, definitely cemented the festival’s hype and initial success. With that said, while Hulu did have the input of an ex-member of Jerry Media, Oren Aks, Netflix was working directly with the team and therefore had a ton of exclusive footage. We’ll leave it to you to watch both and see how the footage and the different opinions shared lend themselves to each film.
#1: Hulu’s Interview with Billy McFarland
The journalistic ethics of paying the people who caused such a disaster has been debated since these documentaries released, with both Netflix and Hulu making executive decisions to work with Jerry Media and McFarland respectively. That being said, it sure does make for interesting content. Regardless of how they managed to do it (reportedly through a decent sum of cash), Hulu had an exclusive interview with the man behind this deceitful operation, Billy McFarland. He shares certain details about the initial plan as well as his childhood of trickery and this interview is supplemented by another with his girlfriend and quotes from his mother. Although his cunning personality and tendency to compulsively lie definitely affected the veracity of the clips, it is still a degree of disclosure that lets us in to his mind, character and dangerous ability to con.
Which Fyre Festival documentary have you seen? In case you still aren’t sure which to watch first, we put together a video that outlines the Top 10 Craziest Reveals in both “Fyre” & “Fyre Fraud”. Check it out below!