Festivals are all the rage with this generation: millennials. From Cochella to Burning Man to Lollapalooza, it's a time to get away from all their troubles, which sure does help a lot. When new festivals pop up, asking this demographic, "Wouldn't you like to get away?," thousands of young adults flock to the desert or into the middle of a city to hang among their peers and dance the night away. However, not all of these festivals go smoothly.
In 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland attempted to put on a fantastical music festival in the Bahamas called the Fyre Festival. This elitist and very expensive event ended up being a total disaster. Now, both Netflix and Hulu have competing documentaries about this moment in history, but which one should you watch?
Both of these movies pretty much come to the same conclusion, that event coordinator Billy McFarland is a functioning sociopath, compulsive liar, and a modern-day snake oil salesman. However, how both these films come to that conclusion is very different.
Netflix's Fyre and Hulu's Fyre Fraud recount the events leading up to the Fyre Festival and how it all came together, which was way too quickly and without any experienced leader running it all. From having to switch the island where it was going to be held, to FEMA tents being used instead of villas, to the bands dropping out the last minute, it is the story of someone who desperately wants to be something he is ultimately not, a tech billionaire.
Fyre, Netflix's documentary about the event, has a bit more of a mature take on the events and presents them as seriously as possible. This is one of director Chris Smith's best documentaries, which is saying quite a lot as he also directed 2017's Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond for Netflix and 1999's cult classic American Movie. The story is delivered as more of a mystery, asking the audience, "What went wrong?" It's apparent, from the get-go, that the problem was lack of planning and trying to rush out a product--which rests squarely on the shoulders of Billy McFarland.
The subjects being interviewed for the piece are those who worked on the festival, from the ones who set up the stages and "sleeping" areas to those involved in the planning of the event. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that it's nothing short of a "clusterf***," with McFarland's response to most problems being something along the lines of, "think positive and it will all work out." It doesn't.
Fyre feels like a smashing success as it is a wonderfully engrossing movie from start to finish. It is essentially a rollercoaster ride of a story, for those who are only semi-familiar with what happened at the event.
Over at Hulu, Fyre Fraud almost has a comedic bent to the entire piece, especially with the musical cues transitioning between each scene, which is hard to take in when the thesis for the film is that Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland was knowingly defrauding everyone around him. Fyre Fraud lets the audience know that everything about this festival was a part of the malicious intent that McFarland had. It's clearly a leap away from what Netflix's Fyre.
It feels as though Fyre Fraud is geared much more to a younger audience, yet at the same time, a chunk of an early portion of the movie focuses heavily on what "celebrity influencers" and "social media" are, so choices like that are a bit bizarre. Additionally, the movie jumps around quite a bit in the Fyre Festival timeline.
Fyre Fraud is much more about a Cliffsnotes version behind-the-scenes before and after the event--including from people that attended the event--but the one thing Hulu's documentary has over Netflix's is interviews with Billy McFarland. However, it's not as in-depth as you may hope for. There are even portions left in the movie where McFarland states he refuses to answer questions or simply says, "I don't know." However, the McFarland interviews alone make it worth your while to watch Fyre Fraud. Additionally, the Hulu documentary makes it a point mention that Jerry Media produced the Netflix documentary, and Jerry Media who were behind the social media marketing for Fyre Fest, and needless to say, Fyre Fraud is not kind to Jerry Media, while Netflix's documentary tends to paint them in a much better light.
So if you can only watch one of these movies, which one do you choose? Even knowing the fact that Jerry Media had a hand in it, Netflix's Fyre is the way to go. It's not as malicious right off the bat when it comes to the way it represents its subjects--or millenials as a whole--and Smith finds probably the best way to tell this story without getting too in-depth with McFarland's life. However, both movies present different sides of the same story. Fyre Fraud gives the audience more insight into McFarland's life, which the Netflix doc doesn't. So make sure to check out both of the movies, but make sure to watch Netflix's first, as it's the better one.