August 18, 2019

Behind the Scenes of the Fyre Festival Documentary

“On paper – or, more accurately, phone screen – it was supposed to be an “immersive music festival on the boundaries of the impossible”. In director Chris Smith’s new Netflix documentary, Fyre – about the “elephant of a clusterfuck” that Fyre Festival actually became – we see footage of tech entrepreneur and Fyre founder Billy McFarland telling a bunch of the world’s biggest supermodels that they are “selling a pipe dream to your average loser”. What actually ended up happening was somewhere between the two.

For those of us unaffected by the whole thing, Fyre Festival seemed to have been dreamt up as temporary respite from an interminable stream of bad news. A bunch of rich kids paying up to $12,000 for an “experience” whose only real marketing had been Kendall Jenner and her #squad uploading an orange square to Instagram, arriving to rain-soaked mattresses, disaster relief tents, shit food and crucially… literally no festival? If you hate rich people, this is pure feel-good viewing, until you realise the impact McFarland’s greed and delusion had on the Bahamian locals.

Fyre Festival was the first endeavour of its kind to really harness the power of social media – it sold out all its tickets in less than two days, despite being a totally new festival and offering almost no information regarding logistics – but it was also the first to meet such a viral and public demise. To paraphrase The Bible: Instagram giveth and Twitter taketh away. Or as one of the interviewees puts it: “Powerful models built this festival, and then one picture of cheese on toast ripped down the festival.” But much like everything else in life, there was more to this whole fiasco than first met the eye.”

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