Directed by: Chris Smith
Written by: Chris Smith
The tagline of the film sums it all up fairly perfectly, “The Greatest Party That Never Happened.” This documentary shines a light on the pure hubris of the men who put together this sham and a generation so afraid to miss out that they got wrapped in as well.
It all begins with an idea by Billy McFarland and rapper, Ja Rule, to put together an experience like no other. A music festival hosted on a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar. An event so exclusive that getting in would make for the hottest ticket in town. Promises of cabanas and access to the biggest celebrities and models in the game. Exquisite food prepared by the best chefs around. A promise that could never have been kept.
I had no prior knowledge of the Fyre Festival. When it trended on Twitter, I had no idea what happened but saw the famous cheese sandwich that circulated. Honestly, I did not care enough to investigate the issue happening, but after witnessing this documentary, I regret that decision. This film opened up a whole world that enraptured popular culture, and I was completely unaware of it. A culture of influencers and how much they drive an entire economy of superfluous materials in life. If a specific supermodel would be attending a festival then it drives people to want to attend as well. Not that this model would be performing or adding anything to the experience, their mere presence made it worth the exorbitant price. It speaks a lot about our culture and the things we value. The power of exclusivity causes people to spend unreasonable amounts of money for the fear of missing out (FOMO). That entire idea allowed McFarland to create this idea and if not for sheet incompetence, he could have pulled it off.
What led to the downfall of this terrible plan came from the pride of McFarland and Ja Rule, who did not know when to call it quits. Many moments, as exhibited in the documentary, presented itself for McFarland to pull out and not let this disaster unfold, but he found himself with such an inflated ego that he would not relent. As anyone who knows about this event, it did not go as planned and ended up being a disaster in every conceivable way.
The way the documentary came together shows some flashy editing and music cues. The filmmakers saw to make the film mirror the experience McFarland attempted to put on. For all of the flash, it also highlights the devastating impacts on the individuals just trying to do their jobs. Many different groups and contractors were brought together to cover different aspects of the festival and the film shares their perspective of how it all unfolded. The sheer disbelief they displayed that when it seemed impossible, McFarland kept going was quite astonishing.
One particular woman from the Bahamas needed to cover the cost of labor she planned to pay with funds that never arrived from the festival. That same fate met so many different individuals throughout the debacle, which only highlights how self-absorbed the men involved must have been. For all the glamour promised, all they left behind was a mess they were unwilling to clean up.