6 Questions We Still Have After Watching Netflix and Hulu's Fyre Festival Documentaries

Netflix
Netflix

Nearly two years after it engulfed the internet, the disastrous Fyre Festival was recently chronicled in two separate streaming documentaries. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened hit Netflix on January 18. It was preceded earlier that week by Fyre Fraud, which is streaming on Hulu. Both films examine the poor planning that led up to promoter Billy McFarland’s failed 2017 concert event on a Bahamian island that promised a premium experience and instead delivered cold cheese sandwiches and FEMA tents for housing. The entire fiasco was largely perceived as an indictment of Millennial materialism and the questionable coercion of social media influencers.

After viewing one or both films, viewers may still have some outstanding questions about the Fyre fallout. Here’s what we know about the wayward Woodstock and some of the lingering issues the documentaries raised.

1. Why did Billy McFarland participate in the Hulu documentary?

Billy McFarland—who is currently serving a six-year federal prison sentence for the wire fraud he perpetuated to raise money for the Fyre Festival—was conspicuously absent from Netflix’s Fyre, seen only in archival footage. Viewers of Fyre Fraud on Hulu, however, watched as McFarland sat for an interview and blinked into the camera. (He was filmed prior to his sentencing.) Though he didn’t offer much in the way of substance and issued a string of “no comments,” some people were surprised he chose to cooperate at all.

That participation, it turns out, was a matter of money. According to Fyre Fraud co-director Jenner Furst, McFarland was paid to sit for an eight-hour interview and share behind-the-scenes footage of himself and other festival planners. Furst would not disclose the exact amount they paid McFarland but told The Ringer it was less than the $250,000 figure being reported by some outlets. According to Chris Smith, director of the Netflix documentary, McFarland was also willing to sit for his film—for $100,000 in cash. Smith declined, feeling that it would be rubbing salt in the wound of the vendors and other individuals who had suffered financially as a result of the festival.

2. Did Pablo Escobar really own the island?

Fyre’s organizers and social media planners made considerable hay over the idea that the “private island” where they originally planned to hold the festival was once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. It’s not entirely clear why connecting the festival site to a notorious drug lord would be appealing, but in any case, it’s not actually true. The event was held on Great Exuma, which was never owned by Escobar. An Escobar associate, Carlos Lehder, once owned a neighboring island called Norman’s Cay, which Fyre organizers had originally wanted to use as the festival site.

3. Why was there so much available footage of the festival’s planning?

Chalk it up to the age of social media and a desire to chronicle every moment of what McFarland and his team expected to be a watershed moment in pop culture. Fyre hired Matte Projects, a production company, to follow them around and gather footage; Netflix’s film also utilized material shot by an employee at Jerry Media, the ad agency hired to promote the festival, who was filing a daily vlog of the company’s experiences with McFarland.

4. Did any attendees get a refund?

Netflix

Some did—but not from Fyre. Many attendees paid between $500 to $2000 for admission, not including deposits to wristbands that were meant to facilitate a “cashless” weekend. Despite a rash of lawsuits, there are no reports of Fyre refunding ticket prices or settling court judgments. Instead, some fortunate customers contested the charges with their credit card companies and were able to get the transactions reversed.

5. Will these be the only two movies made about the festival?

Probably not. After the films premiered, actor Seth Rogen tweeted that he and The Lonely Island creators Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer were still working on a fictional feature film about a music festival that “goes horribly wrong.” It’s unclear whether the festival inspired the project, but at this point, it would be a hard thing for any screenwriter to ignore.

6. Did anyone actually get to swim with the pigs?

iStock.com/bearacreative

The wild, native pigs of Great Exuma were of great interest to Fyre organizers, who shot promotional footage of models frolicking with the oinking mascots. Later, reports of patrons being accosted by “wild animals” surfaced, though it’s unclear whether any festivalgoer was actually harmed by them. One attendee actually called encountering them the highlight of an otherwise miserable experience. “Fyre is a huge sh*t show but it hasn’t been a total loss. I got to meet [a] swimming pig yesterday,” he wrote.

11 Masks That Will Keep You Safe and Stylish

Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods
Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods

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15 Facts About Babe On Its 25th Anniversary

James Cromwell in Babe (1995).
James Cromwell in Babe (1995).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

It's hard to believe that it has been 25 years since a tiny pink piglet named Babe stole the heart of audiences around the world, and turned many of them into lifelong vegetarians (more on that later). What’s almost even harder to believe is that the heartwarming story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog was partially ushered into existence by George Miller, the same man who brought us the Mad Max franchise. Here are 15 things you might not know about the little piggy that could.

1. James Cromwell thought the original idea for Babe was silly.

When actor James Cromwell first heard about Babe, which is based on Dick King-Smith's novel, “I thought it sounded silly,” he told Vegetarian Times. “I was mostly counting the lines to see how much of a role the farmer had.”

2. Farmer Hoggett has just 16 lines in Babe.

But by that point, Cromwell was already sold on the script, intrigued by what he called the “sophisticated yet pure-of-heart piglet.” And he clearly made the right call: The part earned Cromwell an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

3. It took 48 different pigs to play the role of Babe.

Because pigs grow quickly, the crew utilized four dozen Large White Yorkshire piglets throughout the course of filming, shooting six at a time over a three-week period. A total of 48 pigs were filmed, though only 46 of them made it to the screen.

4. Babe also featured one animatronic pig.

Animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller seemed almost embarrassed to admit that they did have one animatronic pig play Babe, too. This is the pig they used for wide shots—when there was at least 15 feet surrounding Babe all the way around, and no place for Miller to hide.

5. Babe is a girl.

While this is never explicitly stated in the movie, because a male pig’s private parts would have been visible on film, all of the pigs used for filming were females.

6. In all, there were 970 animals on the set of Babe.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Karl Lewis Miller—who had 59 people assisting him—said that, all told, there were 970 animals used for the film, though only 500 of them actually made it into the movie. This included pigs and dogs, of course, plus cats, cows, horses, ducks, goats, mice, pigeons, and sheep, too. Baa-ram-ewe indeed!

7. Babe is also Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory.

In addition to voicing Babe, voice actor Christine Cavanaugh—who passed away in December 2014—lent her vocal chords to more than 75 projects over the years, including the title role in Dexter’s Laboratory, Chuckie Finster on Rugrats, and Gosalyn Mallard on Darkwing Duck.

8. Babe was banned in Malaysia.

Not wanting to upset its Muslim community, to whom pigs are haram, Malaysia banned the family flick from screening in its theaters. But its proscription didn’t stick; the film was released on VHS about a year later.

9. Pork product sales dropped in 1995.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In December 1995, just four months after Babe hit theaters, Vegetarian Times ran a story about the problems facing the pork industry. Among the factors contributing to the industry’s slump, according to writer Amy O’Connor, was “the motion picture Babe, featuring an adorable porcine protagonist and a strong vegetarian message.” She went on to note that, “This year, the U.S. Department Agriculture showed stagnant demand for pork, while retail sales of canned meats such as Spam hit a five-year low.”

10. Sales of pet pigs increased following the release of Babe.

In The Apocalyptic Animal of Late Capitalism, author Laura Elaine Hudson is unable to substantiate claims that pork sales dropped a full 25 percent in the U.S. following the release of Babe, as some sources claimed, but she did find that sales of pet pigs increased—as did, eventually, the number of abandoned pigs.

11. Babe turned many viewers into vegetarians.

Babe’s popularity—and its main character’s adorableness—led to many fans of the movie (particularly young viewers) adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. The practice became so widespread that it was dubbed “The Babe Effect,” and fans of the film who went meatless became known as “Babe vegetarians.”

12. James Cromwell is a "Babe vegan."

Among those individuals whose eating habits were altered by Babe was the movie’s human star. Though he had been a vegetarian decades before, Cromwell “decided that to be able to speak about this [movie] with conviction, I needed to become a vegetarian again.”

13. Mrs. Hoggett was aged up for Babe.

Magda Szubanski stars in Babe (1995).Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Magda Szubanski, who plays the farmer’s wife Esme, was only 34 years old at the time of the film’s release. She logged lots of time in the makeup chair in order to pass as the wife of her then-55-year-old co-star.

14. Jerry Goldsmith was hired to score Babe, but was replaced.

Jerry Goldsmith wrote a good deal of the music for Babe, but he and George Miller’s ideas for what it should sound like did not mesh. So Goldsmith was replaced by Nigel Westlake.

15. Babe earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Among Babe's seven Academy Award nominations (yes, seven) was a nod for Best Picture, which pit the pig film against an impressive lineup that included Sense and Sensibility, Il Postino, Apollo 13, and Braveheart (which took home the award). The film did win one Oscar: it beat out Apollo 13 for Best Visual Effects.

This story has been updated for 2020.