It’s a Vimeo staff pick with more than 170,000 views. It’s been hailed as a “bone-crushing 6 minutes of awesome” by Adweek and “so spot-on, you’ll want to watch it twice” by Crushable. Slate calls it the “epic movie mashup to end all movie mashups” and Canada.com dubs it the “greatest, most epic movie trailer ever made.”
Thing is, it’s not actually a movie trailer. It’s lots and lots and lots of movie trailers. And instead of being an advertisement for a Hollywood film, it is, in effect, an advertisement for a 24-year-old Belarusian video editor named Vadzim Khudabets.
Khudabets spoke to TIME via email about what led him to create the Eterna trailer. Turns out it’s been years in the making.
He started by making video-game movies, but found it was the music used in movie trailers that stuck in his mind. “I got goosebumps listening to it and began to get [to know] the trailer music,” he says, first using it for his gaming projects. He made his entrée into the world of promos with a 2009 supercut that garnered enough attention on YouTube to help him get hired to do trailers for Russian films. “I did not expect success of ‘Trailer Cut – Volume 1’ because I think I made it poorly,” he says, “and I really wanted to make the second part better.”
So, for years, every time Khudabets would watch a Hollywood trailer, he was looking for moments that held his interest, filing them away for later. By the spring of this year, the previews on his list would have taken a full day to watch end-to-end. (Just how many movie appear in this clip? You can count for yourself.) Given the abundance of material, it took him several months to end the clips down; he says he was expecting to have 3 minutes worth of material but had so much that his mega-trailer ended up twice as long.
And, rather than just stringing together favorite clips, this time Khudabets tried to find repeating shots and patterns that would match the music he used, to give meaning to the trailer. He also decided to give his imaginary mega-movie a plot and a name: Eterna would be about the eternal struggle between good and evil, which is what he believes all the movies included end up focusing on. Despite the time invested and the pain of the technical work required, he says it was worth it to fulfill the goal.
“It was one of the works that you are doing for the soul, not for the client,” he says. “Favorite music, favorite movies—what could be better?”
So what’s next? Part three, Khudabets hopes, won’t be on Vimeo or YouTube. Unsurprisingly, he’s hoping for the multiplex instead.