Is Summerfest Real? The 'We Are Your Friends' EDM Festival Looks Too Crazy To Be True

Last weekend marked the 46th anniversary of Woodstock, and it goes without saying that festival popular culture has changed a lot in the decades since then. "Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" has been replaced by "sex, drugs and EDM," and no movie better exemplifies this than this summer's We Are Your Friends. The film tells the story of Cole Carter, a tough but sweet kid from the San Fernando valley who dreams of being a successful DJ. By chance, he's taken under the wing of older DJ/music producer James (Wes Bentley). James has the ability to give Cole the exposure he needs to make it in the EDM world — if the younger DJ has what it takes to win over a crowd. Cole's ultimate test comes in the form of a set at a festival in LA called Summerfest, where he's slated to open for James. The final scene shows Efron playing for a crazy, packed-out festival crowd of hula hoops, kandi, and all the other accoutrement that would look absolutely ridiculous anywhere except a music festival. So, is Summerfest a real festival?

The answer is actually pretty cool: Summerfest wasn't a pre-existing festival before We Are Your Friends, but the producers literally created a real festival for the filming of the movie. Filmmaker Max Joseph explains the phenomena of Summerfest in a featurette released by the studio:

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Throwing an actual no-fee block party for the Summerfest scene was a pretty genius idea for a couple reasons. For starters, everyone loves a free festival, so by opening it up to the public, Joseph ensured that it would be a large crowd filled with happy people. It also undoubtedly saved the production a boatload of money because they didn't have to pay for the costumes, food and day rates for a festival's worth of extras. This was a very strategic move given that the production reportedly had a budget of only $10 million, pretty low for a Hollywood film. And since actual artists played (Nicky Romero, Dirty South, LA Riots, Them Jeans, and Dillon Francis were all in attendance) instead of just having the festival be a full day of shooting Zac Efron's scene, "Summerfest" must've felt like an actual party for the concertgoers as opposed to a tedious marathon of standing around waiting for the next take to start.


The Summerfest scene is the climax of the movie, so the filmmakers totally nailed it by deciding to portray the concert through the most realistic means possible. There's something uniquely palpable about the energy at a music festival, and We Are Your Friends succeeds in extending this energy to the viewer. Check it out for yourself — the beat drops in theaters on Aug. 28.

Images: Giphy; Warner Bros.