Lights, camera, Dolphins

Published 10:00am 21 February 2023

Lights, camera, Dolphins
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins’ NRL players, staff and supporters had a sneak peek at the Stan Original documentary series Dawn of the Dolphins, during the series premiere at Palace Cinemas yesterday.

Check out the blue carpet photos at the end of this story

It’s the result of 18 months of unprecedented fly-on-the-wall-style filming, aiming to tell the club’s story and attract a new legion of fans.

The documentary is the brainchild of Dolphins NRL CEO Terry Reader who saw it as an opportunity to reach out to a national audience.

It was produced by Onion TV’s Nick Piper who has been embedded in the club for the past year-and-a-half. The first episode will air on Stan on March 6, the day after the club’s historic round one debut against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.

Reader says there’s plenty to be excited about as the game edges closer and he believes the documentary will add to the buzz.

“The sporting landscape is very cluttered, there’s a lot of teams, and we’ve got the biggest rugby league team currently in our own city and we’ve become fierce rivals. We wanted to come up with something to tell our story,” he explains.

“I agreed with Nick, we’ll give you the access, you follow us even if it’s just for our own personal archives … tell the story of winning the licence and running out that team.

“It’s never been about wins and losses it’s about building a fan base and telling a story. If we could get it on the national stage via a streaming service and put it in front of every household in Australia, or the opportunity to, what a wonderful way to launch a club to the national audience.

“He’s been really respectful throughout the whole process and about making sure he wasn’t taking over what we were doing. He’s been in every meeting, he’s been everywhere. He’s been wonderful to work with.”

Selling it to Wayne

So, how did he talk Super Coach Wayne Bennett into this?

“People say Wayne doesn’t like being in the media … and he doesn’t. He’s a private person … but he said, ‘I understand how the world works and we’re launching a new club’,” Reader recalls.

“He said, ‘we have a wonderful story to tell … what the Dolphins have done, what they stand for, the community piece’ … he said, ‘let’s come up with the boundaries of how we do it so it works well’.”

Piper would not be drawn on whether Bennett channelled Clint Eastwood or John Dutton (Kevin Costner) from Yellowstone during filming, but said he was grateful for the trust he had placed in him throughout the process.

“What we do is we hide behind pot plants and we hide under tables and we spend a lot of time not filming so that, not only Wayne but all the boys, get used to a face being there. We wanted them to feel like it was normal, it was invisible and we were just witnessing what they were doing,” he explains.

He contacted Stan and said it was a story worth telling.

“We wanted to tell a broader story than just a footy story because at the end of the day you can tell a footy story really quickly but there needs to be a little bit more than that,” he says.

Blue carpet photo gallery (click through)

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