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Rival documentaries shed light on Fyre Fest debacle

Online streaming platforms Hulu and Netflix this week released separate documentaries revisiting the disastrous Bahamas-based Fyre Festival

By Anna Grace on 18 Jan 2019

Fyre Festival took place in the Bahamas

Fyre Festival's location on Exuma Island in the Bahamas

image © Jpatokal

Almost two years on from the failed event, Fyre Festival and its fraudulent organiser are once again at the forefront of the media. Launched this week, Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened investigate what went on behind the scenes of the infamous festival.

Hulu got the drop on its streaming competitor, releasing Fyre Fraud unannounced on Monday. Hulu’s surprise release came the day Netflix lifted its review embargo, linking the two films in search engine results. Netflix had announced in December that its own Fyre documentary would air today.

Further controversy lies at the heart of the depictions of the ill-fated event. The Hulu documentary criticises its Netflix counterpart for an alleged conflict of interest. Netflix’s film, directed by Chris Smith, is produced in part by Jerry Media and Matte Projects, companies that worked with Fyre Festival organisers to promote the original event.

The streaming giant dismissed the criticism: “We were happy to work with Jerry Media and a number of others on the film. At no time did they, or any others we worked with, request favourable coverage in our film, which would be against our ethics.”

In response, the Netflix director questioned the ethics of a decision by the producers of Hulu’s Fyre Fraud to interview disgraced festival organiser Billy McFarland. The objection lies in the significant remuneration McFarland is believed to have received for his screen time.

“At no time did Jerry Media, or any others we worked with, request favourable coverage in our film, which would be against our ethics”

McFarland received a six year prison sentence and a US$26 million fine for his role in the festival, pleading guilty to defrauding investors and running a fraudulent ticketing scam.

Fans paid between $1,500 and $50,000 to attend the festival billed as “the adventure of a lifetime”, to enjoy luxury accommodation, gourmet food and performances from acts such as Blink-182, Major Lazer, Pusha T and Disclosure. Upon arrival, festivalgoers found half-built tents, insufficient food and a dearth of performers.

A US judge placed Fyre Festival into involuntary bankruptcy in August. Last week, the court issued subpoenas to more than a dozen companies, including major talent agencies Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and International Creative Management (ICM) Partners, in a bid to track down the millions of dollars investors lost through the festival.

CAA and ICM Partners received $250,00 in payments from Fyre Festival, whereas talent agencies Windish Agency and AM Only together received $690,000 for representing acts Major Lazer and Disclosure.

The agencies’ lawyers will have two weeks to respond to the subpoenas, once they are served.


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