Fyre (2019) and Fyre Fraud (2019) Review

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Fyre: 8 out of 10 and Fyre Fraud: 8 out of 10: Two documentaries covering the now infamous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. Both documentaries comprise plenty of talking heads, promotional footage, behind-the-scenes footage, and footage from the festival site itself.

On to the questions

So which documentary is better? I gave both documentaries the same score. Both are excellent in their own way and both take a somewhat unique look at the events. If I had to choose, I would pick the Hulu doc Fyre Fraud.

Why would you pick that documentary? Aren’t those are the people that gave money to fraudster Billy McFarland for an interview?: Yes, they are and honestly; they wasted their money. These interview bits are the weakest part of the documentary. What Fyre Fraud does well is it really breaks down Billy’s fraud in a way Netflix doesn’t. There is a very solid report on his previous business of a fake credit card and his ticket broker Ponzi schemes. (Which is, in reality, why he is in jail along with lying to investors). It is also more in depth with the investors to whom he constantly lied to raise more funds for both the Fyre Festival and other ventures.

In addition, the Fyre Fraud seems on more solid ground regarding its expose of influencers and PR firms. Some note that Billy’s PR firm Jerry Media is one of the producers of the Netflix doc. (Though in all fairness, it does not escape unscathed there either.)

Does the Netflix Doc Fyre do anything better? Yes. The Netflix doc has much better footage, particularly of the festival itself. It also focuses more on the outcome for local Bahamian workers that were not paid. Netflix’s Fyre also has better behind the scene footage and appears to have more access regarding both footage and interviews. It also wins on the most outrageous story about the festival. The whole releasing the water from customs sexual favor thing.

Is there enough material here for one documentary, let alone two? Yes. Heck, there is enough for an additional documentary. While both documentaries cover some familiar ground, there are plenty of juicy tangents that neither had time to cover. It is neat to watch both documentaries as it gives one a more three-dimensional view of the proceedings. And, let us be honest, there is enough schadenfreude her for a TV series.

So everyone in this is either a ripoff artist or a person deserving to get ripped off? Not exactly. First, there are some highly competent people involved. The folks that put out the promotional campaign video and social media blitz did an incredible job. Sure, the actual festival itself looked nothing like the video, but selling it out in a few days for a first time festival in a foreign country with Blink 182 as a headliner is amazing. That is some selling ice to Eskimos right there. In addition, the actual mobile app the Fyre festival was meant to promote was, at the very least, a good idea. An app that allows people to easily search and book entertainment for the company Christmas party or junior’s bar mitzvah is a useful tool. (Many people, including many of the principals of The Frye Company, forget that the festival was simply supposed to be a marketing event for the app, not a business.)

So what is your takeaway? Music festivals are awful. Full stop. There is a reason the music festival scene dies every decade, only to be reborn the next. They are awful so you have to wait until a new generation of idiots grows up to learn that hard lesson first hand.

I mean, even if they could pull this off, you still just spent $1500 to sleep in a tent on gravel with no air conditioning to listen to Blink 182.

Heck, most music festivals, even the ones that have bands show up, are as bad or worse than the Fyre Festival. One interviewee has been roundly mocked in comparing the troubles Fyre had to Woodstock. He really isn’t that much off. I mean, food and water ran out on the first day at Woodstock and the army had to airlift supplies. Plus, I don’t recall the organizers at Woodstock offering fancy tents with air mattresses… Okay, fine, Woodstock had glorious music and Sha Na Na and it makes a magnificent film and it defined a generation. The interviewee seemed young. Maybe he meant Woodstock ’99.

Both documentaries are great in their own way and both introduce topics, worlds, and trends that are interesting after the documentary has concluded. I would recommend both so you can take in all the Fyre Festival goodness. Now if I can only figure out why I keep calling it the “fry” festival instead of the “fire” festival in my head and all will be all good.

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