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FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

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Stephen Smith
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Jan 31, 2019 at 4:53:58 pm

Netflix has a documentary called FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. I've never heard of this festival so I really didn't know anything about the subject other then what I watched in a trailer. This is such a crazy story. Almost unbelievable. The cool thing is the guy who put on the festival paid camera people to film behind the scenes throughout the whole process. So there is a tone of footage to support the documentary. This isn't one of those documentaries where you keep seeing the same b-roll over and over because they don't have a lot to work with. Because of that, you have a very interesting story supported by lots of great visuals. This documentary is worth checking out.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Jan 31, 2019 at 10:12:20 pm

the guy who put on the festival paid camera people to film behind the scenes throughout the whole process. So there is a tone of footage to support the documentary.

Sounds like "Lost In LaMancha" in that way... ☺

From what I recall of the story, the whole thing was a scam with high hopes of going legit, and it suckered in a lot of people.

BTW, I need to see Terry's finished movie - where's it available to stream?


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Jan 31, 2019 at 10:30:00 pm

Big scam. The guy was like Bernie Madoff. However, I think he thought he could pull it off in the end. Which of course he didn't. It is insane to watch the footage of people arriving at the festival only to find out it wasn't what they thought it was going to be.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Jan 31, 2019 at 11:12:39 pm
Last Edited By Scott Roberts on Jan 31, 2019 at 11:13:34 pm

I LOVED this entire story/documentary. Hilariously, someone *else* created an entirely separate Fyre Festival documentary on Hulu at like the exact same time. If you liked this, Stephen, you've gotta check out the Hulu one too. It's actually better to watch the Netflix one first, because it's more of an overview, and the Hulu one goes a little deeper into the specifics, including interviewing Billy McFarland himself! It's truly a thing to behold to watch Billy attempt to explain himself in length.

[Stephen Smith] "The cool thing is the guy who put on the festival paid camera people to film behind the scenes throughout the whole process."

I guess there's some controversy because the Jerry Media guys were "in" on the Netflix one, so it might be a little more biased to make them look better/more innocent. The Hulu one paints them in a slightly worse light.

Highly recommend watching everything about the Fyre Festival; one of the funniest disasters of this decade.


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 12:13:29 am

I'll have to check out the Hulu one. This is just such a crazy interesting subject matter. An excellent sample of incredible marketing.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 3:11:08 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Feb 1, 2019 at 3:17:01 pm

The narrative kinda depends on the person at the center of it. If the organizer is a con artist, that's one thing. If the organizer is just some incompetent dreamer that engaged in a lot of wishful thinking, hoping things would turn out like the "stone soup" fable... that's another. I can imagine a scenario where some would-be entrepreneur looks at an event like Burning Man or Glastonbury and thinks: "all I need to do is create a buzz, and the people that come in will add things to it as they join." It reminds me of high school party invitations; people would decide their attendance based on knowing who else was going to go or not go.


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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 3:21:42 pm

[Mark Suszko] "The narrative kinda depends on the person at the center of it. If the organizer is a con artist, that's one thing. If the organizer is just some incompetent dreamer that engaged in a lot of wishful thinking, hoping things would turn out like the "stone soup" fable... that's another"

He's a bit of both. I think he legitimately wanted to throw the coolest party festival of all time in the Bahamas, and was hoping it would magically work out. But once everything started to crumble (do to poor planning on his part), then his shady side started to shine through, and that's why he's currently in prison.

If you watch both docs, you learn a lot about his past business ventures, and you discover he is a complex character. He's a guy with some good intentions and interesting ideas who still has no qualms about doing illegal things to achieve his goals. And you can tell he kind of has a lack of remorse. He's a possible sociopath.


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 4:18:15 pm

Mark, it is a film worth checking out. I just watched the Hulu one and I have to say I like the Netflix one way better. The Hulu one is more about the man who put the festival on and the Netflix one feels more about the festival. I've never heard of Fyre so it was nice to watch the Netflix one first since it was a linear story and had a build up to what actually happened at the festival. The whole film you are wondering did any of the bands show up? Did the festival actually happen? Or did it just end up turning into Lord Of The Flys?

The guy Billy who put on the festival is a jerk that got in over his head. He never did anything to let people know what they were really getting into. I agree with Scott's comment "He's a guy with some good intentions and interesting ideas who still has no qualms about doing illegal things to achieve his goals. And you can tell he kind of has a lack of remorse. He's a possible sociopath."

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 4:30:58 pm

"He's a guy with some good intentions and interesting ideas who still has no qualms about doing illegal things to achieve his goals. And you can tell he kind of has a lack of remorse. He's a possible sociopath."

Isn't this pretty much every entrepreneur you ever heard about, though? :-)


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 1, 2019 at 4:32:11 pm

This topic fascinates me because it has resonances to a character in a screenplay I'm working on. Not an exact match, but carries over some common elements.


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 4, 2019 at 7:30:34 pm

OK I watched it over the weekend, and I'm convinced the guy's just a solipsistic, amoral, sociopathic scammer. His involvement with that "F***Jerry guy and his additional scamming via the email address list pretty much confirms my bias.


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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 4, 2019 at 8:53:09 pm

Haha, that end part where he decided to commit a follow up crime while on bail reminded me of this great Simpsons joke:



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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 4, 2019 at 11:28:59 pm

Mark, by your comment I assume that means you won't be working with Billy the criminal on his next project when he gets out of jail in 4 years. ☺

The crazy thing about this. Is how well documented it was and how Billy the criminal asked for a film team to document it and never thought about what would happen if he said something stupid on camera.

Fyre festival 2 here I come!

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 3:25:33 pm

You know, the original base concept wasn't that crazy. The logistical end originally was supposed to be served by anchoring a cruise ship off the island; that takes care of your food, water, hotel, and waste disposal. Add a floating dock or string of barges tied up to the ship, to make an easier high-traffic access between ship and beach, then your only task on the island is the stage and seating/portapotties/ snack bars. Could have still offered camping tent sites as well as a few yacht rentals at anchorages. It's Coachella on the water.


Getting a cruise company to participate would have been non-trivial but doable, considering the publicity value and vertical up-selling opportunities. Heck, if I was a cruise company, I'd try this on my own. Disney Cruises, for example, already owns private destination islands for their cruise passengers. This is just an extension of that. And with stages and auditoriums on the boat, the cruise company could sell an entire second tier of mini-concerts and appearances on-board. It's nothing revolutionary, just an extension of what's already been done before, in a slightly different configuration. I think maybe Billy got greedy, realizing the cruise company would be making the most money off this deal, and if he cut them out, he'd take it all himself. But then he didn't have the infrastructure the cruise ship provided.


I think Billy really poisoned the well for this kind of event though. It will take a couple of years maybe, before the infamy wears off and someone can raise the funding to try this again, but in a legit way. The cruse line is going to have to lean on their branding to add legitimacy to the effort, and make investors and customers brave enough to risk it.


I watched with interest as the team making the initial promo films on the beach squirmed in the post-disaster interview, excusing themselves with: "we just did our job; we couldn't know in advance our awesome footage would be used for evil".
I suppose that's true. Then again, once they knew, they didn't take much effort to distance themselves from it, did they.


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 4:29:40 pm

Mark,

If you watch the Hulu documentary they interview Billy. To me, it is crazy to watch some of his answers for why things happened. It is as if he still thought he could talk his way out of all of the mistakes he made. This one will make you hate Billy even more. As mentioned, a lot of the material is the same as the Netflix one so there is redundancy.

As for the guys who made the promo video. I don't think you can blame them for anything. They created the video they were asked to make. They don't have any control over anything after that. As for the website marketing team. Once again, their boss is Billy and he made the ultimate decision to not tell anyone what disaster awaited them. Had he did, I think you would have had people who canceled (which would have been good for them since they clearly couldn't take care of that many people) and others who would embrace the crappy tent and have a great time as long as most of the bands showed up. On the Hulu documentary, they go more into how the event housing was organized and how Billy then undid everything and screwed it up and turned it into a free for all.

The marketing team that created Volkswagen commercials telling you how diesel is really clean shouldn't be responsible for the big lie they told. Volkswagen who paid the marketing team should be and was held responsible.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:02:32 pm

The Jerry Media guys definitely did nothing wrong by shooting the promo video. For all they knew, the festival was going to happen and be fine.

Now, I think they also had a hand in continued promotion for the festival throughout the disastrous process, and if they knew what was going on and continued to be fine with getting paid by Billy and not saying anything, then they are somewhat responsible.

I remember a long time ago, the company I was working for did a promo ad for what I assumed was probably a pyramid scheme. I felt a little uneasy about it, and was happy I wasn't the editor on it. Luckily the scheme didn't really get off the ground, and nobody got scammed (I think). Later in my career I've had clients ask me to use straight up ripped Disney footage in their videos. I said no. Point being: You have all the ability to pass on a job if what you think you're going to do is immoral or will possibly land you in hot water. Sometimes money ain't worth it.


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:46:13 pm

[Scott]
Now, I think they also had a hand in continued promotion for the festival throughout the disastrous process, and if they knew what was going on and continued to be fine with getting paid by Billy and not saying anything, then they are somewhat responsible.

I agree. However, the documentary made it look like the Web team arrived to the island around the same time guest did. So they wouldn't have known until a few hours before the first guest. Second, what could they do at this point? They built and maintain the site for Billy. Had they altered the site without Billy's approval to say what is really going on they would have been sued. Because at the end of the day it is Billy's product he is paying for.

They never really said who started removing peoples comments. If that was the Jerry web team then this is a different story and they knew something was up well in advance and should have refused to remove the negative comments. This of course would have made it so they lost the account, but in the end, that would have been better for them. Whoever removed the negative comments and legit concerns as a very bad person. Was it the Jerry team? If it was the Jerry team removing the comments then I think they knowingly mislead people just so they could keep making money which is really sad and dishonest.

[Scott]
I remember a long time ago, the company I was working for did a promo ad for what I assumed was probably a pyramid scheme. I felt a little uneasy about it, and was happy I wasn't the editor on it. Luckily the scheme didn't really get off the ground, and nobody got scammed (I think). Later in my career I've had clients ask me to use straight up ripped Disney footage in their videos. I said no. Point being: You have all the ability to pass on a job if what you think you're going to do is immoral or will possibly land you in hot water. Sometimes money ain't worth it.

I agree with that. I've been asked to do some shady projects which I have turned down because the end product felt dishonest. However, if I was asked to make the promo video for Fyre I would have had no idea that it wouldn't work out. Had they pulled it off I think Fyre would be the concert that sounds cooler than all others.

I think Billy is a jerk and the crayon segment on Hulu made me dislike him even more. Clearly, there is blame to go around and Billy wasn't the only villain in this story. The interesting thing is, people who called Billy on his crap where let go immediately including one of the web guys I thought who wouldn't do what he wanted. Bernie Madoff was the same way, if you asked him legit investing questions about his practice he would instantly put up a wall and turn you away. I think Billy and Bernie have a lot in common.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:51:00 pm

Now I wanna do a COW music festival; who's in? :-)


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:51:47 pm

I will of course be in charge of the supermodels.

...pending my wife's permission, of course...


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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:57:31 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I will of course be in charge of the supermodels.

...pending my wife's permission, of course..."


Haha, your main priority will be to protect them from creepy Ja Rule advances. "No Mr. Rule... These women will not be forced to go swimming naked with you in the ocean, now or ever."


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 7:58:23 pm

Do you think he (Billy) initially made up a lot of this - Magnesis and then Fyre - just to have an excuse to attract the friendship of, and to hang with Ja Rule? And then to leverage that celebrity credibility to scam a lot of rich but unwise kids? How much of this do you think was Ja being played, versus being in on it at some point? Was he just another victim, or a co-conspirator? The Netflix movie is kinda non-committal on that topic. JR appears and disappears thru-out. He wouldn't be the first celebrity in pop music to be tricked out of his fortune by shady guys. I don't know enough to form an opinion. Does the Hulu version address any of this?


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 8:35:41 pm

Since the Hulu documentary is more about Billy they spend much more time on Magnesis and how he was even a scammer as a kid. I don't want to give too much away in case you watch it. That being said, in the Hulu version they point out that with the money he got from the first Magnesis investor he went out and spent it on himself. He bought an expensive car, food and more. He said he had to because his credit card promoted that lifestyle.

They also give a little more insight about Ja Rule but not much more. I get the feeling Billy just used him to make the brand seem legit. I don't think Ja Rule really comes across as a smart guy so I think he could have been tricked. That being said.......SPOILER....... in the Hulu documentary they have a meeting with Billy's team a day after everyone got back from the Fyre festival. The goal of the meeting was to figure out how to best do damage control. Ja Rule was on the speaker phone and I kid you not, one of the employees said they lied to the public. Ja Rule then says no one died. That’s not fraud, that’s not fraud. False advertising, maybe.

I don't think Ja Rule can claim to be innocent. But Billy was clearly the partner that was driving the bus.

The Hulu documentary passes the blame around more than the Netflix one.

It is crazy that someone would let them record their damage control meeting amongst other meetings. The thing I really don't get is why in the world did that Frye attendee that said they destroyed and pissed on the surrounding tents just so they didn't have to have neighbors. Who would do that and worse, admit it on camera? This documentary had so much crazy going on in it that you would almost think the whole thing was made up.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 9:03:40 pm

I don't know that I have an answer to that human behavior question, Stephen. I'll hazard a guess, though, that the credit card and the festival were aimed at a particular kind of "douche-bro" archetype, those who prized exclusivity at all costs. Vandalizing the surrounding tents made the live-able one "relatively" more exclusive, private, and desirable. See "the tragedy of the commons".

One other observation/opinion. Confidence tricksters prey specifically on people who are greedy. If they're uneducated or even just stupid, that's a bonus, but the classic cons are always based on the victim making a choice that's not honest. "You can't cheat an honest man"- W.C. Fields

In the same way that, in classic story-telling, the Devil, or vampires, don't enter your home, unless you willingly invite them in, first.


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Scott Roberts
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 9:07:09 pm

I'm guessing Billy's employees just started screen recording the meetings and phone calls without Billy knowing it because they wanted to cover their butts.

In Ja Rule's case, he claims that he had nothing to do with any of it, and he was just scammed like everybody else:



Buuuuuuuuuuuut... then ya know, there's FOOTAGE of Ja Rule clearly present at many stages of the planning process (like when they spilled beer on the sewer plans). And like Stephen mentioned, he was also at the "post-disaster" conference call where he personally tries to spin it in a better light. His "I'd call it false advertising"" line was a nail in his coffin.

Based on what I've seen and read, I definitely don't think he was running the show, but he was definitely a person with eyeballs on the entire thing. I think it's lose/lose for Ja Rule, because he either has to admit he was personally involved in the disaster planning; or that he was the dumbest, most naive businessman on the planet.


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 6:03:09 pm

Ha Ha, I love it guys! Too funny. I'll be in charge of making sure we film everything we do illegal :-)

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 5, 2019 at 8:26:25 pm

"The Court finds Stephen not guilty by reason of superior graphics. The DOP, on the other hand, is boned."


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Bouke Vahl
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 10, 2019 at 9:25:58 pm

Story is great, but the Netflix doc sucks big time.
How can you have so much good footage and a very convincing story and then annoy your audience with trying to prove the same argument 20 times in a few minutes?
Totally uncalled for and breaks a perfectly good concept.
(Let alone it lacks everything that makes a real doc different from a stupid TV piece. Bad, bad director.)

Bouke
http://www.videotoolshed.com


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Stephen Smith
Re: FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
on Feb 11, 2019 at 6:48:52 pm

I liked the film and I wouldn't be surprised if the viewership is high, but Netflix doesn't share that data. Everyone is different and has different opinions on what they like and dislike. Bouke, I'm curious, did you watch the Hulu version and did you like that one more or less than the Netflix one?

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

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