For the New York City premiere and theatrical release, 3i uses a 20-second spot highlighting the themes of caregiving in the film. They first post this organically, meaning not through a paid ad, and then boost to people within the identified audiences that fall within 25 miles of New York City. These ads reach over 300,000 unique New Yorkers and result in over 12,000 clicks at a $0.32 CPC, or cost per click.
For the iTunes release, 3i implements promotions for presales but focuses most of their efforts on when the film is available to watch on the platform. During this promotion, 3i ties a version of the trailer with added review quotes to ads that encourage click-throughs to iTunes. 3i spends a total of $7,884 on the iTunes campaign, which results in over 18,000 clicks at a $0.43 CPC.
3i also works on the promotion of the Unrest impact-funding Kickstarter campaign, which yields the highest ROI of all ad campaigns. According to Matt, this sort of direct response campaign is successful because it asks people to take action and donate immediately, instead of planning a night out at the theater.
All together, the Unrest team spends $31,137 on digital marketing ads: $23,617 on Facebook, $3,853 on Instagram, and $3,667 on Twitter. Facebook is the largest target of spend because it houses the biggest following and is by far the cheapest platform for advertising. With more sharing happening on Facebook, the site also allows for better organic reach.
Social Media Spend and Reach
Unrest was released in the United Kingdom on October 20, 2017. Following a two-week UK-wide tour with special Q&As, the film played at over 100 one-off screenings in independent UK cinemas across 50 locations. The UK reported gross to date is £33,308 ($45,151) at the box office, with Q&A events accounting for 60% of the revenue. Bookings are scheduled up to May 2018, and UK distribution partners Together Films are predicting a minimum £35,000 ($49,500) total gross, which would surpass the U.S. total. This is significant when considering that the UK’s population is one fifth that of the U.S. The team achieved greater market saturation in the UK, which led to broader awareness and more opportunities for public conversation.
Currently, theatrical distribution is a challenge for most documentary films. Unrest’s domestic theatrical outcome is on par with other recent Sundance Film Festival documentaries. It’s rare for theatrical distribution to be a documentary film’s biggest revenue stream. In the case of Unrest, the team went into the theatrical release knowing it would likely be a financial loss. Press and audience engagement—not revenue—were always the central motivators and the keys to achieving the ultimate goal of raising awareness for the issue. As Jen states, “A key part of the film's impact was creating opportunities for a social experience of Unrest, where audiences could bring their friends and family to share a reflection of their journey, engage in conversations and connect with other audience members. The social experience of cinema is a good unto itself, especially for documentaries that seek to lift stigma and shame or build community.”
As shown, the U.S. and UK theatrical campaigns were handled differently: the U.S. focused on longer runs in select cities while the UK focused on one-off theatrical screenings with extensive grassroots outreach as well as traditional press/PR. In hindsight, the Unrest team felt that in addition to designated weeklong runs in a select few markets, targeting more one-off screening engagements or weekend runs in the U.S. would have allowed for greater impact and reach, as indicated with the success of the UK campaign. In contrast to the U.S., the UK had the benefit of Together Films presenting Unrest at the Distributor Slate Day in London (an event designed to encourage collaboration between exhibitors and distributors) a month before release to engage the vibrant independent exhibition sector. This allowed the campaign to expand quickly into additional markets. Also, the ease of digital delivery, as opposed to physical DCP delivery for most U.S. theaters, increased the efficiency of the UK theatrical campaign.
The impact campaign was one of the most expansive elements of the Unrest release, with 230 community screenings in over 30 countries that reached more than 20,000 people. Through license fees from these events, the Unrest team made $38,170 in revenue.
Beyond the monetary value, which has gone straight back into supporting the film’s outreach, the impact campaign directly influenced audiences and helped members of the ME community feel understood and heard. As Amy Mooney, an event organizer, says, “This was an emotional experience. Sharing my daughter’s pain of living with ME is so difficult, but I am so proud we shared Unrest with our community. They came out to support our family, and I hope to combine forces [with them] to make a greater impact.”
Because ME has a background of stigma and insufficient research funding, the Unrest team felt it was crucial to deploy an impact strategy that could help mobilize ME communities and spur meaningful change. With events that encouraged legislatures to revisit their current ME policies, a CDC event that gave practitioners educational credits, and community screenings across the globe that helped communities understand what it’s like to live with ME, they felt the campaign achieved these goals. However, it’s important to note that impact campaigns often outlast the core distribution arc. The Unrest team will continue to encourage engagement through community screenings, educational efforts, and their partnerships with #MEAction and other ME charities around the world.
The Unrest house party program took place January 5–14, overlapping with their January 8 Independent Lens broadcast date. During that time, 123 house parties took place all over the world, in the U.S., UK, Canada, India, and Australia. Each house party host was given a packet created by the Unrest team that clearly laid out steps to host and ways to take action. From surveying those who took part, the Unrest team found that the audience carried out the following actions:
Through their Independent Lens broadcast deal, the film has had 1,502 broadcasts and has reached over 1.3 million viewers.
Impact Campaign Reach