Ad Space – Machete

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
2010 motion picture, Machete


The Pitch:
We filmed a lot of cool stuff; now we just gotta make a movie out of it.

This ad isn’t like any others I’ve covered. Oh, I’ve covered movie trailers before, but the difference is, when this trailer was made, there was no movie for it to promote.

You see, during the long, long ago age known as 2007, there was a movie called Grindhouse. Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, it was a pastiche of 1970’s exploitation flicks. It mimicked the plot and style of those old films (albeit on a much higher budget), and even threw in the occasional bit of scratched or damaged film, like you’d get in the old days.

As part of this retro-homage, it was created as a double feature, containing two full length movies (Planet Terror and Death Proof) as well as several film trailers to be shown between them. And obviously, to maintain the tone of the whole experience, they had to create trailers that fit with the grindhouse pastiche … trailers for movies that didn’t exist, like Don’t or Werewolf Women of the SS (featuring Nicholas Cage as Fu Manchu) or … Machete.

There must be something exhilarating about being able to film a movie trailer, not cobble one together from existing footage. Trailers, by their nature, try to entice you in by showing all of the coolest shots, all of the funniest one-liners, and all of the most outrageous incidents. To make a two-minute short that’s nothing but the cool shots, funny one-liners, and outrageous incidents you’d put in a feature presentation: sounds like a lot of fun.

But this wasn’t just a bit of fun for Robert Rodriguez. They had actually written a full-length screenplay for Machete back in the 90’s, always intending Danny Trejo to be the star, but the project had never gone anywhere. So when it came time to make a fake trailer for Grindhouse, why not use that script as inspiration?

Well, apparently, that was what it took to set the gears in motion. Whether it was because of how positively people reacted to the trailer, because Rodriguez had finally gotten a cast together, or because, hey, some of the more elaborate shots have already been filmed, the job’s practically done already: I don’t know. But within three years, they turned this trailer for fake-movie Machete into an actual, genuine Machete movie shown in theaters across the globe.

And hard as this is to believe, I can assure you: it is every bit as gonzo as this no-longer-fake-trailer makes it out to be.