The Short History of The Long Road – Marketing Recap

How FilmRise is selling a story of self-reliance and independence.

There’s been an interesting increase in the number of movies coming out about people intentionally living outside society in recent years. Captain Fantastic and Leave No Trace, among others, have all focused on people who have opted to eschew the system as it exists and live in nature, or float along on the outskirts of everyone else, getting by as they can and making do when they can’t.

It’s an interesting counterpoint to the other sort of survivalist story that pops up frequently, one that takes it to a more violent extreme, showing a group of individual having to fend for themselves by shooting and carving their way through the world. The difference is that the former position society as something that is too constrictive and proscriptive, while the latter usually envisions a world in which society has essentially fallen.

Into that former category comes this week’s The Short History of The Long Road. Written and directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy, the movie stars Sabrina Carpenter as Nola, a young woman who for her whole life has traveled from place to place with her father Clint. (Steven Ogg). Circumstances develop that separate the two, and Nola goes in search of the mother she’s never met and expose her to a world she’s been kept at arms-length from.

FilmRise’s campaign highlights, of course, Nola’s story as paramount while selling a gentle character study of what it means to really be part of the world.

The Posters

Nola is at the center of the one poster, released in April. That photo of her is transparent, showing the open desert road and is part of her life and an important part of the story the audience will be following. It’s a simple image, with the other main element in the design being the badges from the various festivals the film screened at over the last year.

The Trailers

Nola and her father are out on the open road as the trailer (35,000 views on YouTube), released in late May, begins. Her dad is a survivalist, determined to live outside of society and convinced everyone truly wants to be self-sufficient like them. When their van breaks down, Nola starts working in a garage in exchange for the repairs she needs, but winds up connecting not just with the mechanic who owns the place but also others, giving her insights into what’s going on around her.

Online and Social

There’s quite a bit of good information on the filmmakers and cast on the movie’s official website. That includes not only details on how to get the film on-demand but where it is playing in primarily drive-in theaters across the country.

In addition to the usual social profiles, a collection of GIFs was offered via Giphy.

Van Life GIF by FILMRISE - Find & Share on GIPHY

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The movie debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in May of 2019, with additional appearances at other festivals over the course of the year. FilmRise acquired the movie in February of 2020, with the distributor announcing a VOD release a couple months later.

FilmRise hosted a virtual premiere screening anyone could join earlier this week when the film was first available on VOD. That screening concluded with a Q&A involving the cast and crew.

Media and Publicity

As the movie was making the festival rounds, Carpenter was interviewed on topics related to making it and what she thought of the story. She spoke closer to release about the character of Nola and what that lifestyle means for those in the film and what it’s meant to represent.


It’s a nice little campaign FilmRise has put together for a smaller movie whose prospects are probably higher with a VOD release than they would have been hitting theaters as has been standard. There’s nothing hugely inventive or original going on, but if someone has liked some of the other recent films about rejecting society’s structures it’s likely they’ll enjoy this one as well.

As is common, this movie focuses on how the decisions of a parent impact the life of a teen girl, offering her as the audience’s entrypoint to the story and showing how she eventually wants to make her own choices and does. In that way they’re even more revolutionary than the batch of movies about young women leading entire revolutions to topple dystopian governments.

The one quibble I have is that I wish the story had been explained in the marketing assets a bit more clearly. The synopsis seems to not be reflected clearly or accurately in the trailer, and the poster is simply too vague. But that’s a small point and doesn’t detract from what is a good marketing push in other regards.


Author: Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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