2017’s Fyre Festival became a viral sensation when hundreds of people expecting to party with celebrities on an island in the Bahamas showed up to an event in complete disarray.
Now two documentaries, Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” and Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud,” recount the experience of being there and shed light on the person behind it who is now in prison for fraud.
Here’s what we think the movies’ strengths are and which one is the best to watch.
Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival founder, is in the Hulu doc, but don’t expect anything revealing.
McFarland is all over both movies thanks to archival footage, but “Fyre Fraud” is the only one that interviewed him on camera. (Hulu paid McFarland to be in the movie.)
However, don’t expect much from the footage. Outside of one time when he and the filmmakers have a little back-and-forth over how truthful he’s being – at one point he said his team lost a box of keys that would have housed many of the attendees – most of the footage used is of him avoiding answers.
The Netflix doc gives you a deeper look inside the promo video that made Fyre Festival go viral.
Both movies touch on the infamous Fyre Festival promotional video that went viral thanks to its beautiful island location and its inclusion of models like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski. But “Fyre” gets a lot more detailed thanks to the footage it obtained from Matte Projects, the company behind the shoot. The B-roll of the shoot in the documentary gives an incredible glimpse inside not just the making of the video, but how unprepared to pull off the festival McFarland and his team were.
The Hulu doc gives a deeper look into McFarland’s past.
It seems McFarland was a born hustler, and “Fyre Fest” does a great job of showing that, going all the way back to his wheeling and dealing in grade school.
It also goes into greater depth about his ventures before Fyre, including his Black Card wannabe, Magnises, which was touted as a membership club for young professionals in which they would be invited to lavish parties and hard-to-get-into events.
Both docs have a lot of the same footage of what happened during Fyre Festival.
Thanks to social media, you don’t have to search far to find footage of an event. And Fyre Festival was no different.
If you watch both movies, you’ll see a lot of the same footage captured by attendees (yes, both feature the social-media post of the infamous cheese sandwiches they were given) and numerous interviews with people who were there.
Hulu does a better job of explaining McFarland’s dishonest business dealings through his whole career, not just related to Fyre Festival.
There’s a lot of financial dishonesty to go around when it comes to McFarland’s past. Both movies home in on multiple instances of fraud, but “Fyre Fraud” does a better job of showing that what happened at Fyre Festival didn’t come out of nowhere.
Netflix gives more specifics on the chaos of preparing the festival.
One of the things “Fyre Fraud” does the least is give details of what it was like to prepare for the festival in the Bahamas.
“Fyre,” on the other hand, spends a good amount of time laying out the wild work schedule that went into trying to build the festival from scratch. This makes it all the more painful at the end of the movie when numerous Bahamians talk on camera about never being paid for their work.
The Hulu doc is more of a think piece.
Both movies examine Fyre Festival, but “Fyre Fraud” has moments when it takes a step back and examines the cultural significance of the debacle – from millennials’ love of exclusivity to FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”
Both docs explore McFarland’s venture after Fyre Festival that led to his arrest, but the Netflix doc has actual footage of it.
Believe it or not, while McFarland was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to fraud in connection to Fyre Festival, he was running another scam, called NYC VIP Access, in which he would offer fake tickets to events like the Met Gala, Coachella, Burning Man, and the Grammys.
Both movies address it, but “Fyre” obtained footage of McFarland running the scam, including one instance where he’s feeding lines to the person making phone calls selling the “tickets.”
The last shot of both docs is an interview subject being interrupted by McFarland calling them.
It’s actually pretty funny: “Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud” end with the same kicker.
The interview subject is interrupted by a phone call, and who’s on the other end? Billy McFarland.
In both scenes, the person says, “It’s Billy!”
Which movie is better?
Both “Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud” are strong documentaries and come at the topic at different angles. But if you want a detailed behind-the-scenes glimpse of what led to the festival becoming a disaster, Netflix’s “Fyre” is the one worth your time.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.