Fyre was a music festival too good to be true and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. Advertised as a festival for the elite influencers, party goers were told they could hang out with Kylie Jenner, party on Pablo Escobar’s island and live it up for the weekend. The reality could not have been further from this. Hurricane Michael tents were used as ‘luxury villas,’ attendees’ chartered flights were yet to be booked home and water was being held by customs officers.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, one of two documentaries released on the subject this week (the other a Hulu exclusive) documents Fyre co-founder Billy McFarland’s charismatic deception wager him through three separate business ventures, eventually landing him a six-year prison sentence. Executively produced by Gabrielle Bluestone, the Vice journalist who helped bring McFarland to justice and directed by Chris Smith, the documentary is an amalgamation of interviews, festival goers’ footage and footage captured by McFarland himself.
The documentary does exactly what a documentary should do and offers viewpoints from people who were closely tied to McFarland all the way out to the islanders who were roped into his ploy. It’s important to note a clip played right at the end of the documentary, which shows McFarland calling one of the interviewers and asking him to say certain things on camera. McFarland is all about public image, so it’s possible that much of what is said about him is fabricated to his standards.
What the documentary does show is just how cunning McFarland is and was, from the lies he told investors, to how little even the closest of his employees were informed of the lies he told. Fyre was set to be the biggest festival in recent history, with events director Andy King referencing Woodstock. Promos were filmed on a paradise island, with models hanging out and the modern-day dream being portrayed. One employee noted that the Fyre festival did happen, but it was on these days, instead of the nightmare that followed.
The Fyre festival was only able to gain such attention through these high-profile models, along with 200 other influencers letting their audiences know about it. On 12 December 2016, Instagram was full of burnt orange squares, the colour chosen for Fyre. Within 48 hours, 95 per cent of tickets were sold out. High-end package deals, such as private cabanas, a yacht party with Kendall Jenner and luxury villas were added on, with attendees encouraged to add funds to their Fyre account days before the event. What was unknown at the time was that these funds were going straight into the ever-growing debt that McFarland had racked up, much of which has since been passed onto other Fyre employees. The aftermath left models such as Bella Hadid apologising to fans, but it really does show what the power of social media can accomplish.