Must Watch: Shaun Manners Stars In 'Blastoid'
We chat with Shaun about his latest edit, moving away from Margies, his influences, and knocking out his front row of teeth.
Shaun 'Chun' Manners is 20 years old. No longer a grom, but not really an adult either. He's four years junior to any of his closest peers – Creed McTaggart, Beau Foster, Noa Deane, you know the lot – but has recently placed himself on the same rung of the performance ladder.
Chun's latest clip solidifies his position as a paid non-competitive surfer.
Blastoid is its title, and it's the first clip Shaun has starred in, let alone one in which he's had control over.
For a number of years, Chun, could've been loosely labelled as the runt of the Rage team. A precocious grom with an undeniable knack, but nothing that would ever arrest our scrolls or warrant one of those slow-mo playbacks that were once in vogue.
Blastoid is different. It's good. Very good. Fuck, it's even rewatchable. A 15-minute opus all filmed in West Aus, most of which is shot at The Box, North Point, and the WA's most infamous desert left.
During Noa Deane's stint as our makeshift editor he instilled the belief that Chun was the surfer that psyched him out the most. And when asked to write a piece about which surfers he was inspired by, he suggested that he writes one entirely about Chun instead.
The article never eventuated, but in hindsight, it should have.
Above is the aforementioned short that is best absorbed in desktop resolution. Below is an extended conversation and introduction to Shaun Manners, for those formerly unacquainted.
Introducing Shaun Manners and his northern home, Gnaraloo.
Stab: Shaun, how've you been? As lame as it is, let's start off with a little introduction.
Shaun: [laughs] alright, do I just go?
Umm, well, how old are you?
I'm 20 years old. I grew up in Margaret River. I moved to Byron at17 for a few years and then moved back before I was 20. You've been here, that little set-up in the backyard of my Mum's place.
I’m keen to get out of here though. I just can't live here [in Margs] anymore.
You said last time you were planning on driving over to Byron and moving there again. Still the plan?
Yeah I'm driving over in a few weeks. You just get bored of the waves in Margs. I mean, they're obviously sick, but you take them for granted, I do anyway, I know I shouldn't.
You certainly won't take waves for granted living over the east side.
I'll just keep an eye on the charts and if there's a swell I'll bail back home. It'll get me way more psyched to go on surf trips at least.
So, you're just packing up and doing the drive solo in your Landy? It's pretty fucking far.
[Laughs], yeah I'm going solo. I'll probably do it over a week or two and I'll just be crazy by the end of it.
I’ve got a few mates who live along the way who I’ll visit, and I’ve got a mate driving from Lennox to Margs at the moment so I’ll meet him along the way too.
Do you know where you're going [laughs]?
I just looked it up then [laughs]. Through the Nullabor, then once you're close to Adelaide you start driving north; drive west of Sydney, and then up the mid-north coast. It's nothing like the old days where you would've had to physically plan it out on a map. I've done it before though [not solo] so I have a pretty decent understanding.
Coffee and music gets you through.
A little closer to home. Growing up here means Chun's at the top of the pecking order when it comes to sets at Norths.
Let's talk about the clip, Blastoid, how long has it been in the works?
When did you, Noa, and Mikey come over?
April, I think.
Well, about a month before that. But it was around when everyone was here that [Tom] Jenno [Jennings] decided we were going to make it. It just went from there. I hit up Billabong, they were frothing, and then it just sort of worked out.
Was Jenno pushing for it? I remember him saying, 'we gotta make a Chun clip'.
He was frothing! But I didn't think I'd be able to pull it off and didn't care. Actually, I definitely cared about the clip, I just wasn't sure how it would come out. Jenno's footage always looks amazing though so that helps.
This is your first feature clip, right?
For sure. It’s the first one I’ve even been in control of and had control over the direction.
Jenno came down about a month ago and we edited it together at the house for like a week. He likes to edit by himself, so I let him do that, then I'd just go in and change bits I didn't like. It was a mutual process.
And I'm guessing you picked the music?
[Laughs] definitely. [Jenno] would've gone with Comfortably Numb.
While we're talking about the film, why the name Blastoid?
Ahh, when we were doing the Rage 2 premieres I was getting called a blastoid. Well, everyone was calling each other that really. Creed wrote a song about me called blastoid too and then it went from there.
Someone hit me up and thought it was about a Pokemon though.
I think it is a Pokemon.
The turtle one? [Laughs] Well, I just really like Pokemon then.
Billabong's 'Desert Hilton'. We didn't know the surfing industry was doing it this tough.
How long have you been going up to the desert for now? That closing section, and closer wave, was fucking mental.
That wave felt like a cartoon man. I still don't know how I made it.
My Mum and Dad have been taking me up [to the desert] since I was four years old. My family’s always loved going up there – my dad went up there for the first time in the 80’s – and we’ve always just been up there. Even if i didn’t like surfing I’d still love it. It’s just the weird thing everyone does.
It’s a crazy getaway little zone. It’s great fishing and it’s great getting away from everything. You just go camping and get on the tins pretty early. With mates, sitting around the campfire talking shit with no reception.
Go up there and summer though and it’s howling onshore with 1000 flies buzzing around your face.
How was it going there with Dorian and Occy? Dorian was a fan.
It was so sick. I actually just smashed my face in before that trip though so I wasn't keen to charge. It was completely different to my 'bloodlines' days as a grom.
I saw Occy do some of the sickest turns I've ever seen. Shane [Dorian] and [Jack] Robbo were charging too. I didn't really charge that trip cause I was rattled after the injury.
Yeah, what happened there? Did you snap a tooth?
It was the surf before and we were wrapping the whole trip up. Four days of pumping waves, but it was still cooking and I though, 'fuck it, gotta go back out'. I went out and was just going to do turns down the end, then a mate goes, ‘let’s go and try to get one more water clip’.
So i took my bigger board.
I ended up waiting for an hour and a half for the wave. It wasn’t even a big one. It was about four or five foot. I was too deep, the board bounced off the foamball straight towards me and hit me straight across the jaw. it was like I ate the board. I didn’t think it was real at the time.
I’ve got the metal retainer behind my teeth [after you get braces removed]. They were holding my teeth in but they'd dropped down and I could feel the roots of my front teeth. I tried to push them in as hard as I could cause I couldn’t feel anything with the adrenaline. I was still completely underwater at this stage.
When I popped up there was blood everywhere and I went in. One of my teeth was snapped, three teeth came out, and there wasn't even a scratch on my board to show for it.
No one even wanted to look at me, they were like ‘stop showing us that' I just waited for my Dad to come in and he took me to hospital. The dentist was shut though so the doctor just stitched them up. I had to wait until I got back home in Margies to have them put back together.
Mum and the dentist were just talking about some TV show while the dentist pushed my teeth back in. I was just screaming in fucking pain. They wired it and then glued it. I was awake the whole time. It was fucked.
It's not often you can say 'it's worse than what it looks'. And still, it looks pretty fucking bad.
Dude, this is heavy, are you all good now?
Nah, they're going to fall out in a few years according to the dentist and I'll have to get fakies.
Now I've just got a few browning teeth at the front.
Let's talk about something nicer then [laughs], been shaping much?
I'm at Dad's factory now, and we just finished the board I'm shaping in the clip. I'm not going to have anywhere to shape over summer when I'm in Byron though. It's not cheap. Dad's got the materials, has been shaping for 36 years, and if I did it myself over there I'd probably just fuck it up.
I've shaped 6 or 7 boards now, it's a process – it takes that fucking long – but I really enjoy it.
Does it give you more appreciation for surfing and board design?
For sure, and it makes me respect my boards more too. When you're a grom you can do really stupid shit like punch your boards and break them, when you grow up you realise how much effort goes into making them. For me, my Dad was slaving away shaping every board for me.
It makes you realise how lame punching a board is.
So you Dad shapes all of your boards?
Most of them, and every board in the edit is shaped by him. I've finally grown into being able to ride proper boards too.
I'll probably be doing trips back here just to get more boards.
There's something in the water out west I tell ya.
You're on the Rage team and have been mates with those guys for years. How have they influenced you?
I first started hanging out with all of then when I was 17, and looking back it's crazy how much of a grom I was. I guess I'm still a grom [laughs]. Hanging out with those guys pushed my surfing though. The way they approach it, taking surfing seriously, and it sort of opened me up.
I always just had fun. I still do, but I went out there and just mucked around; I didn't really try to get many waves or try anything really. Now I really enjoy working towards goals, and that's because of those guys and their influence. They pulled me up when I was being a little shit.
That's sick, I feel like that crew – and 'freesurfers' in general – cop a stereotype that they don't care, or that it's easy.
They definitely give a shit about what they do. You have to.
With the surf industry being so wild at the moment its hard to sort of let go and just make movies or edits though.
Do you have to work on the side?
A little this year on and off with a mate who's a sparky [Ed's note: that's an electrician].
Actually, the first day I worked with him, my first ever proper day working anywhere he wouldn't tell me where we were going. He just said, 'bring a vegetarian lunch'.
We rock up, and we're installing lights at an abattoir. My first job was working in a roof as bulls get slaughtered down below. After that day i thought, 'I'm going to try as hard as I can to make this video good' [laughs].
What's plan B if surfing didn't work out? Guessing it's not at the abattoir.
I guess it would be working as a labourer. It definitely doesn't make me super happy, but I could rely on that if I had to.
What about the 'art' in the clip? Someone might like that [laughs].
[laughs] let's not go there, that's not art. I just lost the top of that white spray can and had to do something with it.