The feature documentary SHARKO, looking at the life of celebrated rugby league legend Mark Graham through the eyes of his filmmaker son Luke, is now filming in Queensland. Written and directed by Luke Graham, SHARKO is an intimate father-son story of how a working-class boy from New Zealand’s tough streets of South Auckland became one of rugby league’s greatest players, and the personal cost echoed through generations.
Mark Graham wore the nickname of SHARKO with pride, he was a predator in a sea of sharks. Known for his size, speed, skill and toughness, his peers voted him the greatest New Zealand Rugby League player of the 20th Century. The only player to have been inducted into both the Australian and New Zealand Rugby League Halls of Fame, Mark changed the sport of rugby league and carried his team and country to the doorstep of greatness. The story is told through the in-depth lens and skewed perspective of his filmmaker son, with Luke revealing a shared personal history scarred by pain and loss.
“I’m really happy to be back shooting SHARKO here in my home state of Queensland,” said Luke Graham. “Getting the film to this point has been a long, challenging and deeply personal experience. I’ve learned a lot about my dad and the life he has led, and I’ve also learned a lot about myself. It is my hope that the film will continue to provide an important discussion around mental health and identity, and help others who might be experiencing their own challenges.”
Block one of the SHARKO shoot took place in Australia and New Zealand in 2022, where Luke travelled to South Auckland to learn about Mark’s working-class upbringing and the brutal sport which he fell in love with. The shoot is now continuing in locations across Brisbane, including Wynnum Manly Junior and Wynnum Manly Seagull Football clubs. Luke and the production team are telling this honest and affecting story through a combination of family archives, filmed interviews, recreations, and rugby league footage. Interview subjects include rugby league greats Wally Lewis, Ray Price and Paul Vautin, with many others who have been a part of Mark’s life both on and off the field.
SHARKO is written, directed and produced by Luke Graham (Broke), and produced by Jonathan Page (H is for Happiness) and Kylie Pascoe (The Art of Incarceration). Executive Producer is Jonathan Shteinman (Brabham). Pivot Pictures will manage the domestic theatrical release in Australia. SHARKO is developed and produced with investment from Gladstone Regional Council, Regional Arts Australia, Regional Arts Fund, Capricorn Film Festival, Screen Queensland and principal production funding from Screen Australia.