Fyre Festival failures showcased in dueling documentaries

Two documentaries from Hulu and Netflix follow the infamous music festival's cofounders Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland, their teams, festivalgoers and others through the disastrous event.
8:43 | 01/23/19

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Fyre Festival failures showcased in dueling documentaries
You're talking beautiful Bahamas islands, beautiful models, beautiful parties. Reporter: It was built on social media as the cultural experience of a decade, and mark Crawford spent thousands of dollars in tickets and anticipated the event for months. It was all about capturing this experience of being on an island with this group of people. They're featuring jet skis, yachts and beautiful villas. Reporter: An expensive and curated trip into the Bahamas, luxury accommodations, gourmet food and top musical guests like blink 182. It was called fire festivals. Models and instagrammers like Kendall Jenner promoting it. A fantasy come to life. It came from a friend of mine. She had the whole video. It was a no-brainer. The marketing was incredible. No one disclosed that they were ads. Reporter: Turns out the reality was far from paradise. What you ended up happening was consumers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and invested in a complete fraud and disaster of an event. This is the ultimate example of following social media influencers down a dark path. Reporter: Guess who paid thousands of dollars for the ultimate luxury get away, instead were stranded in water-logged tents, eating soggy cheese not a music or model in sight. The failure that is fire festival now playing out in dueling documentaries, one on Netflix, the other on hulu. I certainly made a lot of mistakes. And that are's no question about that. Reporter: In 2016 Mcfarland teamed up with a hip-hop mogul on a new venture, fire media, an event to take the middleman out of booking celebrities for events. And then the idea for the ultimate marketing promotion. Fyre festival was supposed to be the new Coachella. Reporter: The event sold out, but at days ticked on, things on the island were spinning out of control. Mcfarland and his team clearly over their heads. He was unflappable, but he was also entirely delusional. Reporter: Fyre, the greatest party that never happened on Netflix charts the festival's path from blaze of glory to burnout. It was that constant battle in my mind between is this guy a genius or a mad man. Because he just would not take no for an answer and would not take advice. Where do you land now? He's a liar. There were so many great stories from people on the ground witnessing sort of the insanity unfolding around them. Reporter: Chris Smith is the film's director. There are an a number of people in the documentary raising red flags. We're about to close this $20 million investment and have these sponsors on board. There was a lot of information coming from fyre making it seem like they were always on the verge of success. Reporter: It's April 2017 as festival goer mark Crawford arrives. The promise of a luxe weekend with a private plane goes off in flames. I'm still looking for the private plane. This like yellow school bus pulls up in front of the airport. And I thought it was like a school bus. And I remember someone at the front of the group said no, no. We're waiting for our shuttle to fire festival. Turn around! Reporter: Their accommodations were in a gravel pit next to a sandals resort. We get here and decide I'm going to save myself. You know what to do. This survival mechanism kicks in. They brought out the lug imagine like semi containers and said everyone grab your bag. It was a frenzy. An absolute disaster. It became this looting mentality. One woman had a whole pallet of toilet paper. Somebody had this giant box of pillows she was lugging back to her tent. It became very barbaric. New details we're learning about that epic fire festival. Going viral with #dumpster fire. Reporter: Mcfarland responds to the outrage. How we're solving this is first all guests have been taken home safely on planes. Next, everybody is being refunded for their ticket purchase and everybody is getting a comped ticket to fire festival 2018. Reporter: Ultimately, he was charged with defrauding investors of $27 million. Pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud, elaborating that he greatly underestimated the resources that it would take to pull off an event of that scale. He provided investors with falsified financial reports, listing millions of dollars in revenue from fyre media when they made less than $60,000 the year leading up to the event. He was creating fake balance sheets. He was creating a fake net worth. Reporter: While out on bail, Mcfarland carried out yet another fraud. Nyc vip which promised access to elite events like the met Galla and Victoria's secret fashion show. It's astonishing that he's out on bail and then begins committing another fraud. You would think that the one thing he'd want to do when he's out, pending trial, would be stay out of trouble. Reporter: In the months that have followed, Mcfarland's business partner has also come under public scrutiny. The music mogul said he, too, was led astray. What does going to prison look like for you? I don't know, I haven't gotten there yet. Reporter: Mcfarland is serving a six-year sentence in prison. We didn't break the law in the execution of the festival. I'm not going to comment on any criminal proceedings. Reporter: Hulu paid Mcfarland for this interview, a decision that Smith, the director of the Netflix documentary had also faced. He wanted to get paid for his participation, and we just didn't feel comfortable doing that. Reporter: But Netflix did partner with Jerry media. We felt good about trying to dive deep and do an objective look at what was happening. Jerry media's owed over $150,000. They were trying to do their jobs. In the end, you look to the bahamians and people on the ground, almost everyone lost. I had ten persons working directly just preparing food all day and all night. 24 hours. I had to literally pay all those people. I am here as a bahamian. I went through about $50,000 of my savings that I could have had for rainy day. Reporter: Maryann Ruhle has raised $170,000 through a gofundme page. What does this mean when you have people go off this picture and accept it and buy in. There's a perception of reality. Reporter: Is it a testament, billing his success as being a pt Barnum? Yes, he said this would be a case study studied in the future.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"8:43","description":"Two documentaries from Hulu and Netflix follow the infamous music festival's cofounders Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland, their teams, festivalgoers and others through the disastrous event. ","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"60561727","title":"Fyre Festival failures showcased in dueling documentaries","url":"/Nightline/video/fyre-festival-failures-showcased-dueling-documentaries-60561727"}