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Development   /  Luke Graham


A father and son documentary about NZ's greatest Rugby League player… ever.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Luke Graham

  • PRODUCER Jonathan Page



A feature documentary drama about enigmatic Rugby League legend Mark “SHARKO” Graham, and his filmmaker son, Luke. In his prime, Mark was the best rugby league player in the world. Known for his size, speed, skill and toughness, he was a predator in a sea of sharks. Mark changed the sport and carried his teams and country to the doorstep of greatness, while remaining a mystery to his biggest fan, his son.

Together, They travel back to New Zealand, where new father himself Luke, learns about his dad’s working-class upbringing and the brutal sport which he fell in love with. Mark’s chance encounter with an young coach named Graham Lowe, who together form a special bond and lead their underdog country out of the depths of irrelevance and rise to challenge the world’s best on its largest stage. But for the injuries and personal loss that took him away from the game he loved dearly.

The only Rugby league player to be inducted into both the Australian and New Zealand Halls of Fame, Mark’s experience as an elite sportsman is a far cry from the luxury and celebrity lifestyles modern footballers enjoy currently. His success, and what it required to get to the top and stay there, took an enormous toll on his health and family life.

​Mark’s story is told through the in-depth lens and skewed perspective of his film-maker son, with Luke revealing a shared personal history scarred by pain and loss. As he learns more about his father’s past, both the hardships and the glory, he comes to a realisation about the man he idolised above all else. In the 21st century, notions of masculinity, fatherhood mental health and identity have changed radically from the era Mark grew up and played rugby league in. SHARKO explores what these mean and how generational patterns can change, but only through understanding and reflection.

​SHARKO is an intimate portrait of a father, a son & one of New Zealand’s greatest sporting heroes.... ever.

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Preston Davies $200.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The film looks at the effect of generational family patterns, depression and suicide. We examine our Australian culture where men are raised to be hyper-masculine and un-expressive and the importance of sport, how it defines us as a nation.

Sharko with the assistance of Capricorn Film Festival, Movember and other partners will commence a Mental Health Campaign after the documentaries theatrical release in Australia and New Zealand.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Sharko's Mental Health Campaign aims to bring awareness and support for regional and remote men’s health and wellbeing as we progress through an ever-changing world. We aim to educate men both young and old also the wider public on the men’s mental health crisis in Australia, through aligning with key community partners including inimitable mental health partner, Movember.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

- To build community resilience
- Bring people and community organisations together to foster stronger, more resilient communities
- Improve mental health and social conversation in rural communities
- Enable rural community members to develop skills, knowledge and confidence to lead and contribute to their families and communities
- Increasing access and support for vulnerable and disadvantaged within rural communities


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Sharko plans to partner Capricorn Film Festival Inc and Movember to provide a strategic mental health initiative which will tour Central and Greater Queensland, also New South Wales and New Zealand, providing a screening of the completed documentary, Roundtable discussion and health and well being workshop.

The intention by offering these activities is to:
- 'Inspire' through the Documentary
- 'Connect' through the discussion
- 'Assist' through the workshop

The round table discussion will include the filmmaker, key local leaders (both youth and adults), mental health professionals and a Movember representative. The workshop will include a mental health professional under the guidance of Movember.

The planned Queensland locations include:
-North Queensland
-Mackay, Isaac, Whitsundays
-Central Queensland
-Wide Bay Burnett
-Darling Downs and South West

The initiative wil will also be provided to New South Wales and New Zealand.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

At present we have the support businesses and organisations including:
- New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) including all regional clubs
- North Sydney Bears including their members and juniors
- New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL)
- Screen Australia
- Screen Queensland
- National Australia Bank
- Gladstone Ports Corporation
- Capricorn Film Festival
- Gladstone Regional Council
- Regional Arts Fund
- Regional Arts Development Fund
- Flying Arts Alliance Inc
- Creative Partnerships Australia

Councils will be contacted with the planned screenings/workshops.

Gladstone Regional Council is the first contacted and will be building a strategy for both education and screenings within its region with local groups.

We also have Movember as our mental health Partner.

The producers will continue to develop opportunities for community awareness.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We hope that our audience will:
- Start a conversation about Australian masculinity and its role
- Change the viewed behaviour around men's mental health
- Hosting their own screenings inviting local community groups
- Sign up to our mental health campaign
- Support campaign through social media, community and councils

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

- Short term: Start a conversation/raise awareness/attitude shift about masculinity and men's health
- Med term: Change the viewed behaviour around men's mental health
- Long term: Schools implementing new policies around male mental health, education opportunities for sporting and other groups and improved infrastructure or support mechanisms for current organisations. Reduced suicide numbers in male youth and adults and improved mental health education and support.