Story: Billy McFarland had convinced nearly everyone around him that he was a master businessman and the future of the music industry, thanks to his latest project, known as Fyre. He would create a platform where the public could directly book musical acts of all kinds, direct access to some of the biggest talent on the planet. To promote Fyre, Billy had a grand plan to throw an epic party in a tropical paradise, on an island once owned by Pablo Escobar. A beautiful backdrop filled with luxuries and a lineup of musical talent that had to be seen to be believed. Of course, Fyre Festival would turn into one of the biggest flops of all time, turning Billy into a joke and a criminal, while creating a story that defies all logic, yet somehow still really happened.
Entertainment Value: This is an outrageous documentary that frames Fyre Festival as it should be seen, a scam built from the ground up, but does so while giving the serious aspects proper treatment, while also dunking on the ridiculous elements involved. This piece not only tracks the madness around Fyre Festival, but goes back to Billy McFarland’s roots as a conman and explores his previous businesses, which all seem about as legit as his infamous island spectacle. So we’re given the full background on how Billy even got in a position to stage Fyre Festival, then this documentary does a deep dive into how the music festival fraud spun out of control. I loved hearing about the social media promotional campaign, which took some models to the island for a shoot, just to secure some Instagram posts, while other influencers were compensated to just post a picture of an orange square. It is a ludicrous concept, but the mind games worked and generated a ton of interest for Fyre Festival, in large part because so many people kept overlooking the wealth of red flags at hand.
This film sits down with a wide scope of folks involved in Fyre Festival, though not Billy himself, who appears in a different documentary on the topic, Fyre Fraud. His absence is felt, but as he isn’t much for honesty, he isn’t a huge loss here, especially since we are told so much about his background and his actions during the Fyre scam. So despite him not being one of the participants, you’ll get to know Billy and his methods quite well. The most memorable interview has to be belong to event producer Andy King, who would go viral for one of his anecdotes in Fyre. He was clearly willing to go the extra mile to make Billy’s vision happen, which leads to the infamous story about a water truck and how boundaries can be flexible in stressful times. You’ll hear all kinds of inside details from within the Fyre staff, first hand accounts of the Fyre Festival build up and actual event, and all the Billy McFarland tales you can likely stand. If you’re a fan of colorful documentaries or are just curious about Fyre Festival, this documentary is highly recommended.