Marketed as the greatest festival the world has never seen, Fyre Music Festival was sold to be a luxurious experience where attendees would dance to top musical performances, rave with famous socialites, and sleep in high-end villas, all on a private island in the Bahamas. Yet it all failed because of its creator, Billy McFarland. Netflix’s new documentary “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” covers this fraud behind the scenes and its aftermath.
Director Chris Smith captured a wide range of perspectives in the documentary. Employees, festival goers, and Bahamian locals all shared how they were personally affected during the process of creating this event and how its repercussions still affect them today. A local Bahamian woman even shared how she still has not been paid for her labor, which has hurt her financially and emotionally.
The background research into McFarland’s past projects also provided understanding for why Fyre Festival failed miserably. To better understand why McFarland scammed so many people, Smith took his audience back to when McFarland owned Magnises, selling “elite” credit cards that rewarded users with reduced concert ticket prices and invites to exclusive parties. No one actually received the benefits, and consequently, McFarland accrued a staggering amount of debt from this enterprise and was unable to pay it off. Knowing this was essential to realizing McFarland’s disconnect with reality.
Now to Fyre Festival. McFarland still owes payments for the Magnises scandal and he’s undertaking a new endeavor. Knowing what happened with Magnesis, the festival’s outcome shouldn’t be shocking. The festival’s main purpose was to promote Fyre, a music booking app that made talent-booking easier for consumers. It even received endorsement from late ’90s rapper Ja Rule, adding to its legitimacy.
However, the list of perks the festival promised were just too nice to be real. Gourmet dining and $1,000 villas were included all within a two-week “transformative” experience. Ticket costs ranged from around $500 to $1,500, excluding VIP packages, airfare, and accommodations. The line-up had top chart artists, like Tyga, Desiigner, Migos, and Lil Yachty, and was advertised by a commercial of celebrity models partying on the Bahamas.
Unsurprisingly, the revenue couldn’t cover the costs of the festival, and the event turned into utter chaos. People fought for tents, mattresses and pillows, stealing supplies from one another in a concerning Lord of the Flies-esque turn of events.
The main perspective Netflix lacked was from McFarland himself. There are no interviews with McFarland; the only footage showing the business entrepreneur are shots taken during the making and the aftermath of Fyre Festival. This absence can cause watchers to either feel intrigued or frustrated. Interviewing McFarland would’ve provided a greater scope of understanding, yet with all the other sources, his voice probably wouldn’t have helped him gain much sympathy.
Despite the absurd benefits Fyre Festival claimed to grant, these “promises” detrimentally affected anyone involved with the festival. Netflix does a great job at exploring the background of the festival and its effects. The wide range of sources and behind-the-scenes footages strongly contextualized the festival’s consequences. Though they didn’t interview him, the documentary still provides significant coverage on McFarland and explains with enough depth why Fyre Festival never happened.