Dude Perfect talks new tour documentary, origin story and when they first started making money from this YouTube thing.
Imagine going from filming trick shots in your backyard to performing in front of 10,000 people on a sold-out national tour, all because a whole bunch of people watched your videos online. It may sound unbelievable, but that’s the TLDR story of Dude Perfect, the five-man YouTube troupe of Tyler Toney, Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert and Cody Jones.
Now, the group that made their name in viral videos has something longer and bit more contemplative to offer:Backstage Pass, a full-length documentary of their recent national tour and a behind-the-scenes look at how Dude Perfect became Dude Perfect.
In advance of
release — it will stream for free on YouTube starting May 11, Toney and Cotton spoke to FanSided about filming the series, the most difficult shots of their careers and how it all began.
Dude Perfect’s Tyler and Coby talk Backstage Pass
FanSided (Mark Carman): Dude Perfect is probably my, at least seventh favorite thing in life. Coby and Ty are with me. And I got to confess to you guys, before we get into this, I’ve watched your videos for years now, but I’ve never been a subscriber until today. So I am your 59,233,981-st subscriber on YouTube. So I feel sorry that it didn’t happen until now but I’m in.
Tyler:Welcome to the team, man, glad to have you.
Coby: And seventh in life, that’s not bad. We’ll take that.
I mean, I’m a huge Jordan fan and we got to get family in there. So I don’t want to, you know, and I want this to feel real. So I think seven is a good spot off the top of my head for you guys,
Coby: I’m not even sure we’re top seven in my own list, you know? Very, very appropriate ranking.
You guys are doing the Dude Perfect Backstage Pass and my judgment was like, they’ve got to do these shots, 8 million zillion times for it to work, yet now you’re doing the backstage pass, which is coming up on May the 11th. So, talk about what people are going to see coming up this, you know, roughly a week now.
Tyler: Yeah, I mean, I’ll start it off. I think, for us, it was kind of always this thing that we talked about, but never really knew how we were going to pull it off because like you said, I think a lot of people knew us as the trick shot guys. And we were worried that hey, we’re gonna show up to these stadiums and people are just going to expect us to go to the rooftop catwalks and just be draining all these trick shots on the first try. And the show is actually pretty far from that. And it turned out really cool. We’d kind of just take elements from all of our different types of videos. The trick shots, obviously, which we started with and kind of what people originally knew us for — our Stereotype series, our Battles, our Overtime series, and we combined all of those into one live show. And the response that we had from the tour was really positive and
Backstage Pass just kind of highlights some of that, but also our story that we’ve never really talked about, like some of the struggles and just opportunities that we had early on and some of the tough decisions that we had to make.
And so, for the first time, it’s kind of an in-depth look at how we got to where we are today. And we’re proud of that story. And we think they did a really good job of putting it all together, and we can’t wait for people to see it.
So without giving anything away here, you guys were high school friends, right played on the same basketball team and went to college together. Do I have that correct?
Coby: Yeah, no, that’s correct. At least a little bit. Garrett and Tyler here, went to the same high school in Prosper, Texas. And then obviously, my twin brother and I did as well but the rest of us all met up at school. So we met up at Texas A&M and ended up as roommates there.
And so you’re sitting around as roommates, and how does it ever come to be that you realize that you all have these really weird, eclectic, amazing, creative talents and you’re all sitting in the same room.
We like to say that Ty’s brain is just a little unusual.
Coby: I think I think a lot of the credit for that piece goes to Ty. Ty is just weird enough to try some strange stuff. So he and Garrett were the first ones that bought a basketball goal when we were roommates at Texas A&M. They just started shooting shots in the backyard. And we like to say that Ty’s brain is just a little unusual. And he thinks of some strange ideas every once in a while that are entertaining to watch. So yeah, the pieces of the puzzle just kind of fit together. It was exciting for us and we’ve been really grateful to see people’s response over the years.
So Ty, did you realize ‘I need to go nuts every time we have a successful shot’ because I think that is at least part of what sells it, because people are literally sitting at home, yaying along with you.
Tyler:Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that was really a conscious decision. I think no matter really what kind of shot you’re doing, there’s different reactions that are not necessarily different. If you make it on the first or second try, you have a big reaction because you’re done with that shot and you don’t have to attempt it anymore. And then you kind of have a similar reaction if it takes 200 tries, because now it’s finally over and it’s more of a relief celebration.
So I think the people who are really, really tuned into the videos can probably tell the difference in those. But yeah, I’ve heard you know that, that it’s just kind of contagious. It kind of brings you in. People enjoy celebrating things, and so I think that’s at least a small part of why people feel like they’re just another member of the Dude Perfect team and why they can celebrate in the successes with us. And it’s been cool to see that.
What was the hardest, particular trick shot that took you forever?
Coby: It’s weird because usually the ones that you think are going to be the most difficult end up being the easiest. One of the shots that we did was a shot out of an airplane and it was just kind of something that we had always talked about. And we ended up making that one pretty quick, as in two tries, and then you know, you’ll have a shot that’s just inside on a basketball court, whether it’s just a long hook shot, or, you know, behind the head shot, no looker, and you’ll end up spending an hour on that.
There’s no like, consistency, rhyme or reason for how long it should or shouldn’t take it. Just every one of them are different. And I think they all balance and average out and at the end of the day, you have a video and hopefully you’re proud of it.
Coby, who’s the best athlete?
Coby:Oh, man. All around, I’m going to give it to Tyler. Are there things that we can beat Ty in? Sure, yeah, I mean, you know, we can we can start a list, but all around, I’m going to give it to Ty.
Cody, the tall guy in the group, he’ll tell you that he was recruited for basketball at Texas A&M and we’ve yet to see any proof of that. So I think there’s a little bit of debate there but not a lot on my end.
Tyler, has anybody ever been injured? Have you been injured?
Tyler: Not like too terribly bad. Cory suffered a lifelong pinky injury that still sticks with him today, during one of our football world record videos. He was attempting, I think — I guess I was throwing to him, so I should feel a little bit responsible for this, but I think we were doing the world’s longest blindfolded catch. He was just supposed to be running across the field and I was throwing him the pass and I guess I hit him a little bit low and kind of permanently made his pinky finger crooked. So, he’s got to live with that for the rest of his life. But at the end of the day, he got the record, so I’m sure he would say it was 100 percent worth it.
When did you guys — without getting too into the weeds financially — but when did you guys start making money?
When we first made our first five pennies and we had enough to split one each way we were pretty excited.
Coby:So we we joked — you can potentially start making money as soon as you start loading videos, and when we first made our first five pennies and we had enough to split one each way we were pretty excited. In college, that was a big deal.
Then I remember, you know, we had enough to pay for sandwiches for the week. And we’re like, man, do we got something here, guys? And then, you know, honestly, we did it part time for probably four years.
That’s a big piece of what we tell in the documentary is how, you know, I think people who tune in, and I’ve certainly got this sense myself, when I look at other entertainers, you get the sense that they’ve been doing it, you know, their whole lives at this high level. And the truth for us is that we were doing it part time and juggling other jobs for years to try to get it to a point that was sustainable.
So it took a long time for us to build it up to something that was more of a business and less of just kind of a video hobby. And so we’re excited for people to see that piece of it and I think it really helps people understand the journey.
Ty, would you underline one video or was it a strategy that sort of uplifted it to the next level?
Tyler:I mean, the the video that people know us, I guess, at least heard of us for the first time, a lot of times you hear is the world’s longest shot that we did at Kyle Field. I think that was the most viral video I don’t remember the year, probably is 2009 or ’10.
Then I think the biggest really jump for us more strategy-wise was when we started diversifying our content. We jumped outside the box of the trick shot guys and then we started making the Stereotype series and then the Battles that people just wanted to watch us compete in. Then more recently, the Overtime and our Bucket List series.
It’s just cool that YouTube is a place that allows us to kind of be able to do that, we’re not stuck in this box and and we can kind of make whatever content we want and test that out and see how it does. I think the documentary is just another example of that. It’s been cool that YouTube Originals has allowed us to go in kind of document our very first, you know, summer tour that we ever did as a group and I think that’s, you know, a pretty neat thing to have captured. And like I said before, we can’t wait to share it with everybody and see their response.
You’re doing much more personality stuff as you just underlined, but you don’t put your names on the screen, right? You’re not pushing your Twitter. It’s more: the group. Do you anticipate a point where you’re going to try to emphasize individual personalities, that type of thing?
Coby: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the beauty of kind of what we built. And I think, honestly, what we’ve heard from a lot of other creators that are kind of doing it on their own is like, I mean, a little bit of that, you know, just kind of jealousy factor of man, that’s, that’s cool that you guys get to do this with, you know, four other guys. And not only that, but four of your best friends. I mean, that’s, I think that’s something that people — that’s what brings them in almost to the Dude Perfect videos.
It’s been nice for us because that’s just, you know, for other people that early on, we didn’t have to hire out and we all had our own roles and responsibilities, and I think it’s made it that much more fun and I don’t think any of us would want to go at this solo. I think we’re doing it exactly the way we want to.
How many people in the entire organization at this point?
Coby: I think we’re around, I think around 12 or 13. And five of them are the five of us so we’re still pretty tight and we’ve really enjoyed it that way.
It is certainly not just the five of us, there’s a team behind it,
But I mean, I will say, one of our employees, Chad, he just celebrated five years with us today and he’s one of our editors. We have a really strong team and really grateful for the hard work of all those guys and it’s certainly not — we talked about that a little bit in the documentary as well — it is certainly not just the five of us, there’s a team behind it that is able to make it a lot more entertaining to watch than it would be if I was the one doing the editing.
Yeah, but so obviously at the start you were all doing your own shooting, your own editing or was it kind of split up at that point?
Tyler:No, I mean, that was very much how it was. Cory was responsible for all the the editing of the videos, I was still doing the creative on planning the videos. Coby was the one that was sending out every video that we made to people like yourselves and any news outlet that would have us on. Cody was running our social media, Garrett was handling merchant finances.
I think all of our roles have evolved slightly from then, but we’re all still doing a version of those original roles. But I mean, it was the five of us and our agent Jeff. And that’s how it was for, I mean, a good five or six years. And so we’ve always liked that small feel, and that just smaller, tight knit group. And so we’ve kept it that way. And we couldn’t be more proud of the team that we’ve put together today. So it’s pretty cool to to see it stay like that over the years.
Who came up with the logo?
Cody:Well, the logo has slowly evolved over the years. I think Tyler etched out the very first one, it was a lot worse than the current one. But yeah, it’s morphed over the years. And I think our favorite thing is that you can flip it upside down and it’s the same logo. I don’t know if it’s a lot more advanced than that, but it has worked well for us.
Tyler: The very first logo I ever drew — I got really excited, and the guys apparently were not as excited because I thought I just came up with like this genius way to draw our logo. But I just did like kind of a crooked line, and drew it on a piece of paper, and then drew and a S to like kind of connect it and, go right through the middle, and you had to the D and the P. And I was ecstatic when I figured that out and I showed the guys and I just, I kind of got like the blank stare back at me.
They clearly didn’t think it was as cool as I did, but it was our very first logo. So I mean, we’ve come a long way since then.
Coby:As exciting as that sounded on radio, that’s as exciting as it was in real life.
So well. If I’m trying to put myself in your seat, you guys have a logo, you have merchandise. You got the Nerf Sports Dude Perfect signature bow from Hasbro. It should bring a smile to your face, I would think.
That’s probably one of the biggest things in the Dude Perfect Backstage Pass documentary — just our gratitude for the fans.
Coby: It does. I mean, the truth is, we’re just grateful and I think that’s probably one of the biggest things in the Dude Perfect Backstage Pass documentary is just our gratitude for the fans.
We’re grateful that God has just opened up this platform and opportunity for us. We don’t take it for granted. We’ve had a lot of help along the way, steering us and pointing us in the right direction. We hope people see that in the story that you know, while it’s been a lot of hard work and a ton of fun, we have a lot to be thankful for.
You know, the Beatles were once best friends and then they broke up, that’s not gonna happen here is it?
Never know! Start breaking some more fingers and start losing that. I don’t know it could happen. Yeah, one errant football throw and there could be some trouble in paradise. You never know.
And just for the record, the quarantine work that you guys are doing is straight hysterical. So I’m sitting here like trying to figure out like what can I do creatively with video right now that could underline what’s going on? Tremendous job by you guys. The eating guy, the TikTok guy, all of it. Brilliant.
Coby:Thank you man. That was actually the probably the quickest filming and turnaround that we’ve ever done for a video we typically like to try and stay, I mean, months out schedule-wise but usually we like to have two or three weeks before we launch a video after we finished filming one and so we filmed and edited that video basically in a week, just because we knew it was timely and we wanted to get it out there and it’s doing really well. I haven’t looked at the numbers today but I think it was over 12 million last time I looked and that’s three days so pretty good performance so far from that one.
I’m not personally the best actor myself so you should see some of the stuff that hit the cutting room floor that didn’t make it.
I liked that you actually included that in the back end, by the way, I thought that actually added a nice touch. All right before you guys go, let me just throw a couple more out. Number one how’d you come up with the name?
The second choice was Backyard Stunt Man.
Coby:Name was, we were in the backyard, didn’t have a cameraman at the time. I set it up on the railing and we looked through the camera and said, oh dude, perfect, it’s already in frame and then kept the audio and that was the name from then on.
Tyler: The second choice was Backyard Stunt Man. And we veered away from that one, so who knows what could have been.
Could have been worse, could have been better but luckily we’re still not the backyard stuntmen.
I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be better, I think Dude Perfect is right there. What about ‘pound it noggin, see ya’?
Coby: You did it on camera a long time ago. We had this weird kind of foray into vlogging, somebody convinced us that that was our future and we did it for about two weeks. And I think Ty was kind of losing his mind a little bit and just started doing weird stuff to the camera. That was one of them. And that one stuck. That one’s that one’s worked out.
I don’t know if that was like subconsciously like some Finding Nemo.
Tyler: Yeah, I don’t know where that came from but there we go. Pound it, noggin, see ya.
So this is the first time you guys are going live on your channel. So far you’ve raised about, I believe $85,000 for the Red Cross and Feeding America. I know that means a ton to you guys. Are you nervous about this coming up on the 11th?
Coby:Yeah, we’re just we’re excited for people to see it. I don’t think we’re nervous. The tour was a success. I think we’re really proud of the video, in the way that it turned out. The documentary I guess you don’t call it a video if it’s that long.
But I think you know, we’ve learned over the years that at this point, you just kind of make what you want to and what you’re proud of. And then if it you know, if it’s what you wanted it to be and you’re entertained by it and you think you put your best foot forward, that’s all you can do and then you put it out there and kind of gauge the rest of the world and what they think. So I think we’re excited for people to see it, would be the correct term.
I guess last one here, did you have a favorite stop on the tour?
Coby: Oh, man, no, we joked and kind of turned into a little more of a golf tour where we also performed while we were out on the road. We got to play some cool golf courses, which is amazing.
Tyler: The LA show was pretty awesome. We get to play the forum, which is that really cool round venue that a lot of people that we are familiar with have been able to perform at before, so that was probably the peak for me.
WatchBackstage Passon YouTube now.
Peoples Talk Radio Backstage Pass Forum