Corey and Sean are back again with the sixth installment of the Beneath the Surface Podcast: Gatorproof. In this episode, they rehash what they describe as “the best shoot” of their lives. Back in 2016, to promote the launch of BOTE’s KULA Cooler, the guys teamed up with some friends (and some heroes) to make a mockumentary product launch video at an alligator farm in South Florida. The whole thing turned out to be one helluva good—even if totally absurd—time.
Back then, many of the major cooler companies were promoting “bear proof coolers.” Corey found the notion of this idea somewhat silly—like, unless you’re out West in grizzly country, why would your cooler need to be bear proof? So, he and the team came up with an original spoof-script about a crazed character named Murph (played by Sean) whose life mission was to find the most durable products on the planet through the creation of the Gatorproof Alliance—a fictitious organization that would test product durability by seeing how these products stood the test of an alligator’s jaws.
The guys relive some of their favorite moments from the shoot, and it comes out sounding like a hybrid mix between Silence of the Lambs, The Waterboy, and Tiger King. If you’re looking for a laugh, sit back and enjoy.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
“The KULA, for those of you guys familiar, is our very unique, round, badass all around, tough-guy cooler. This thing was a unique creation in itself. It’s its own brand kind of inside the BOTE brand.” – Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE
“When we made our cooler, we thought it would be a kind of cool thing to name it KULA, like a cajun thing. We also had a unique style with it, too. We had a bunch of ambassadors and people at the time that were using our boards for fishing, using 5-gallon buckets. They’d have a 5-gallon bucket; they’d have a cooler. They’d have all this shit on their boards, and I’m like ‘hey man, maybe we can consolidate all that’—make a cooler in the shape of a 5-gallon bucket that you can also use as a seat. So it took on its own identity.” – Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE
“This shoot was the coolest thing right away for me because alligators are my favorite animal. I’ve had them for pets. I spent my entire childhood at the alligator farm. Alligators are my life. I love alligators.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography
Links From The Episode
“Ever since he got into that GPA thing - Gator Protection Alliance, or whatever, he’s been obsessed! Obsessed!!” – Murph’s StepDad. “Don’t say bad things about my son.” – Murph’s Mom.
Here we are, back again with another episode of Beneath the Surface. Ready to rip, trucker hats, and all.
00:01:24 A Great Story
OThe guys discuss the origins of the film and how it came to be.
“If you had to ask me, in my life, what was the favorite shoot I’ve ever done, I would say this was the highlight of my life,” says Sean.
00:01:55 Cajun Inspirati-un
At the time, the guys were watching a lot of the show “Swamp People,” which had a not so small influence on why they ultimately named the new product the KULA Cooler and also had a role in how they came up with the Gatorproof concept.
00:03:53 Who the Hell Needs a Bearproof Cooler?
Back in 2016, all these cooler companies were selling their coolers as “bearproof.” For Corey, this blew his mind. Why would anybody need a cooler to be bearproof? Especially folks on the East Coast where there aren’t any grizzlies. And so, the Gatorproof Spoof was born.
00:06:10 The Gatorproof Spoof
The idea was that the guys would do a spoof product launch video. Sean would be the actor. He’d play an alligator-obsessed guy named Murph who’s the founder of The Gatorproof Alliance (GPA). Corey doubled down on the spoof, going so far as to buy the Gatorproof Alliance web domain (turns out, not a lot of competition for that one), which would redirect to the KULA website.
00:08:40 Setting the Scene
Through some luck, the guys had some friends that owned and operated an alligator farm in Arcadia, South Florida. This farm was the real deal: 200+ gator ponds, filled with big gators, small gators, every kind of gator. This would become the new HQ for the Gatorproof Alliance.
“We had to make this gator farm look like it was the Gatorproof Alliance testing facility.” – Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE
00:10:08 Silence of the Lambs (but for Gators)
The place where the guys were staying was straight out of a scary movie. (Or if you’re Sean, who’s obsessed with gators, more like a dream come true.) Where they slept, the house was filled with gators. Gators on the walls, gators coming out of the floor, big gators chowing down on small gators. Totally absurd, but the perfect homebase for wrastlin’ gators, cruisin’ on airboats, and getting the perfect shots.
00:14:58 Obsessed with Alligators
Corey and Sean walk us through the hilarious concept of the Gatorproof Alliance video. To this day, Sean is a local celebrity in the outdoor industry—even signing autographs at the annual Outdoor Retailer show—because people thought his character, Murph, was real.
00:17:15 Shot from the Hip
The beauty of the film is that some of its best parts were non-scripted. They were just Sean being Sean. Will Boucher, the writer of the film and a friend of Sean’s for 25+ years, would throw Sean questions, and Sean would respond in turn with in-character ad-libs right on the money.
00:20:34 Tiger King
Sean and Corey have a laugh at how absurd the whole shoot was. Like an episode of Tiger King but for reptiles—with Sean getting maybe a little too confident & close for comfort with the gators.
00:21:19 Sean, The Method Actor
Though initially skeptical about acting on camera, by day two of shooting, Sean discovered what maybe should have been his true calling.
“After day two, I became this guy, Murph. I was like Christina Bale. I couldn’t get out of character. Two hours after shooting, I was still yelling at people like Murph.” - Sean Murphy, BOTE Director of Photography
00:22:05 KULA: Certified Gatorproof
After a bunch of products had failed to stand up to the test of an alligator’s 2,125-pounds-per-square-inch bite strength, Sean puts a KULA cooler in the gator’s jaws, and—boom. Indestructible. Pure Power. The Gatorproof Alliance has finally found a product that’s officially gatorproof.
00:22:45 One of the Funnest Projects Ever
The guys reflect on how seamlessly everything came together. It was done fast, but done well—shot and released within two weeks.
Even though they’ve joked about it all day today, they sign off with an honest note about how the KULA Cooler really is one of the best products BOTE makes. Definitely check it out. Also, stay tuned for more episodes to come.