Since Hulu and Netflix released dueling documentaries on the Fyre Festival fiasco, both films have stirred controversy. And now both could be facing subpoenas.
First, Hulu dropped Fyre Fraud on January, 14, without any promotion — seemingly in an effort to rush the film out ahead of the January 18 release of Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. It was an interesting move that seemed in line with the sneaky spirit of what authorities describe as a fraudulent festival that scammed and endangered thousands.
Then The Ringer revealed that the Hulu production paid Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland for an interview. Since McFarland was the charlatan architect of the fake Xanadu, the payment raised ethical concerns.
The director of the Netflix-produced film said McFarland also asked them to pay him for an interview, but they refused. “After spending time with so many people who had such a negative impact on their lives from their experience on Fyre, it felt particularly wrong to us for him to be benefiting,” Smith told The Ringer, in an apparent jab to the rival film.
It seemed that the Netflix production took the higher road. But then a New Republic report put a spotlight on the Netflix production’s connection to FuckJerry (now Jerry Media), the marketing firm behind the festival’s promotion. Curiously, FuckJerry was a producer of the film, and the New Republic reported that the CEO of FuckJerry, Mick Purzycki, claimed he had a “final cut” of Netflix’s Fyre.
Netflix dismissed Purzycki’s statement in a comment to the New Republic. “Jerry Media did not have final cut. There was an initial agreement that either party could walk away at any point and retain the rights to what they came into the project with,” Netflix said to the New Republic. “This was superseded by the distribution agreement where the final cut was with the director.”
However much input FuckJerry had, the film seemed to promote the work of the company while also absolving that work from the role that it played in the historic scam. Around the same time this came out, the #FuckFuckJerry campaign picked up steam, finally taking the company to task for its history of apparently stealing jokes and memes.
Now, both the Hulu and Netflix Fyre Festival films may have some more issues over footage used in their documentaries.
Bloomberg reports that on Tuesday the court-appointed liquidation trustee for the Fyre Festival estate, Gregory Messer, sought subpoenas of both productions in a bankruptcy court filing. Messer reportedly wants Netflix and Hulu to reveal if they paid for material that could belong to Fyre Media.
“In order to create the documentaries, both Hulu and Netflix used unique behind-the-scenes footage of the festival,” Messer wrote in the filing, according to Bloomberg. “Due to a lack of information, it is impossible for the Trustee to determine where the footage came from and whether such footage was an asset of the Debtor’s estate.”
Netflix declined to provide a comment to Gizmodo about the possible subpoena. Hulu did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
This month marks two years since Fyre Festival was supposed to happen, and somehow the shitstorm that hit that unfortunate island continues to make waves.