Dialog Box

Community | Education | Environment | Social Justice | Welfare | Youth
Shark-Proof Sea
Madi is an activist and her cause is her life. She's a millennial fighter determined to turn impossible dreams into reality. Mature beyond her years, she can be dead serious or a goofball, stubborn or quirky, but always making sacrifices for her beliefs. She’ll dodge bullets before accepting another shot in another shark. 

Madi grew up in the ocean along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Sharks are part of her family. But even in her short lifetime, Madi has noticed a decline in shark populations everywhere she dives. She left school at 14 to protect sharks full-time. 

Madi understands too well that the real enemy is fear: if we could understand why we need sharks -- and why we must respect their power as an Apex predator -- we might stop killing them by the hundreds of millions every year. 

Trying to ‘Shark-Proof’ the ocean for our safety is as misdirected and outdated as Australia’s once-famous Rabbit-Proof Fence. In order to reduce the devastating effects of shark fishing, shark nets and baited hooks, Madi must turn shark fear into shark love so that others, like she, will demand their protection. Starting with one cantankerous female Great White, named 'Pip'.

On her quest she will travel to Florida, Cape Cod, Indonesia, and back to Australia; she will risk life, limb, and arrest, and be shocked by what she sees. She'll work with a daring scientist who can demonstrate sharks’ connection to climate change.  And it’s here that Madi has an epiphany. She commits to helping shark fishermen become shark tour operators instead. Building her case across the arc of this film, Madi will show the value of live sharks over dead ones, change minds, and help save the planet -- one shark at a time. 


How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

The project will have an immense impact on not only a community level but also on a global scale — affecting social, philosophical, economic and environmental change. Every year we kill 100,000,000 sharks. Sharks are key to a healthy ocean. 

Our film reveals new science that links sharks to climate change so any philanthropic foundation that cares for the ocean, the planet, climate change, our future or the future of ocean predators will feel compelled to act. 

So, too, will individuals feel compelled to act -- to fund the film, to visit the shark tourism community, to contact politicians, change what they eat/where they shop, and convince others to demand more protection for sharks. 

On a community level, by offering a tourism-based alternative to shark fishing via a prototype program, we could start with measurable change for an entire community. This alternative source of income would give shark fishermen a new, sustainable future. We would bring more money into their community, protect their ecosystem and food source, and give them a safer, long-lasting occupation, therefore changing their life and the lives of future generations. 

On an international level, not only will the documentary serve as a repeatable example of how live sharks can better support a community than dead ones that are fished to depletion; it would also expand awareness of how sharks are treated and feared around the globe. With engrossing, personal, educational storytelling, we can change people’s perceptions of sharks and in turn help stop the destruction of their species. This protects the sea from the imbalance we will face if we lose this vital Apex predator. What’s more, through understanding and respecting them, we hope to reduce shark attacks. 

This project has far-reaching and exponential impact for change; the film itself being a first step and a showcase for the parallel, larger aim: a global change in the way that sharks are treated and viewed. 

Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

The main outcome that we are hoping to achieve is a global shift in mentality of people towards these apex predators through entertaining, multi-platform, Millenial-targeted, must-see education. 

Presently as a society we choose to ‘protect' humans from sharks through attacking and killing them. In showing the value of sharks to marine ecosystems and how these beneficial ecosystems can be created, and help communities we would hopefully encourage people to protect sharks. This would inspire people to put pressure on governments and their shark-related policies, for example the policy that is currently under review in Australia, to lift the protection of Great Whites. 

The measurement of the impact of this film is when people both locally and globally are aware of how destructive shark nets and other shark culling measures are, so push to make changes around the way the governments go about “shark–proofing” our oceans. As with Blackfish, we aim to inform and educate viewers and pave the way for legislative and philosophical change. Another measurement is through the increase of shark eco tourism, as shown with Madi’s existing mission that offer an alternative, long term sustainable income to economically vulnerable communities.


What is your education and outreach strategy?

We have many different outreach strategies that we are looking to implement throughout the course of the project. Firstly we will be using a traditional education approach where we will make all information available to schools and other educational institutions along with education packs. This will be partnered with Madi coming to speak at Universities, schools and museums, including working closely with the Australian Museum and a long-running shark exhibition they are planning for 2Q 2018. We will also work closely with the Australian Surf Life Saving clubs to develop ways in which they can educate the community on shark awareness and how to deal with sharks if you see them in the water, similar to the education all children receive about dealing with rips. 

Madi will travel to specific areas around Australia, and the world, to educate communities on the benefits of moving their focus to eco tourism and showing them how this can be implemented. Then, if accepted, she and Judi will help them build a place that is shark friendly and financially benefited by eco-tourism. Another strategy to be implemented is involving existing community organisations to help protect sharks. This will be done through local information nights speaking about how the locals can actively change policies on a local level, thus beneficially impacting their lives and careers. Teenagers will help spread the word, and educate through the Australian non-profit, Kids Giving Back. Their focus will be educating young people through the social channels that they are familiar with, using as one of the educational tools the 4 minute video that Madi has created ‘How Sharks Change Reefs’. Just like the viral video "How Wolves Change Rivers" in her video Madi sets out to show how a healthy ocean starts at the top of its ecosystem.

Adam Geiger
Sally Browning
Total budget
71 Minutes