Dion and a Aus Pipe punt we've replayed one too many times. Filmed by James Campbell
Now... This: Dion Agius On The Positives Of Social Media, Conceptual Surf Cinema, And His Love For Roy Orbison
Otherwise known as some noteworthy and innocuous Q's we ask surfers every week.
Reception in Tasmania is terrible. Well at least in the region where Dion Agius lives.
After thinking Dion may be ghosting me following a few alluring texts, he returned one of my half-a-dozen morning calls on the way back home with Chippa Wilson and Joe G in the car.
Part shooting for Dion's upcoming Cult of Freedom section and part just hanging out in Tassie, Joe, Dion, and Chippa were driving back from seeing some of Tasmania's natural sites. After spending years living in different parts of Australia, Dion moved back to the North East of Tasmania, a spot he moved away from at just 16 years of age. More recently, friend (or foe when it comes to film sections) Chippa also moved to Tassie – two minutes down the road from Dion to be precise.
So to kick off this week's installment of Now... This, we thought we'd ask Dion why so many people seemed to be moving down to Tassie.
Dion Agius, somewhere on Australia's South Coast.
Stab: So you've been in Tassie for over four years now and Chips just moved there as well. Why does everyone seem to be moving to Tassie?
Dion Agius: Yeah Chip lives on the same street as me now, he's like two minutes down the road.
But on moving to Tassie it depends on where you move. There's not really much opportunity in terms of jobs compared to major cities, so you need to be able to work around home or work remotely. The space and peace and quiet down here is what allures people. If you've just had enough of the city life and just want to chill out it's great.
Is that why you moved back?
Yeah, I spend so much time on the road though – probably nine or ten months of the year. I come back here for like a week and then I'm taking off again. Coming back in those circumstances is great, I love it, you can just completely decompress and reset, but if I did live here all the time it would be a little bit of a different story.
If you need a lot of stimulation from other people, or you get bored quite easily then it probably isn't the right place. Oh and the winter is fucking brutal [laughs].
Now if I do get bored I just do little spurts up to the city. It's just around two hours to Launceston airport from my place, and then I just fly up to Melbourne in 40 minutes – it's mellow. You can hang there for a couple of days to get your city fix, see some music or something, and can then just jet back. It's probably similar to living in like Ulladulla or something really – just a couple more planes in the mix.
So where are you off to next?
Well hopefully Ireland in a couple weeks, wanting to drink some Guinness. Hopefully it's not completely fucking freezing... which it probably will be.
I also hear you're working on some more conceptual ideas for your Cult of Freedom part with Globe. Can you divulge a little?
I've been working with Joe G on [the part] for nearly a year now. Now Joe and I are starting to work on some more conceptual stuff for the piece. I want to make my section a little bit different to the other boys, it'll have the hi-fi surfing or whatever like the others, but then I want to try and round it out with some more conceptual parts. And honestly, we've been having so much fun with it.
Joe and I have had so many ideas saved up over the years and have never had any excuse to do them, or they haven't been executed properly, now the few things we've shot so far we've been so happy with the results.
Can you dive a little deeper on the concept you're working on, the direction you're taking it?
Well, each shoot has been pretty different, but at the moment I don't want to dive in and give too much away before the movie comes out [laughs]. It's nothing super crazy, they're simple concepts, we're just trying to work on getting dynamic, well executed shots, that look good at the end of the day.
We are going to start releasing some trailers and sneak peaks soon, so people will get an idea from seeing those.
We're trying to do things on a kind of limited budget as well, but I often think that's better as it forces you to be a bit more creative; you can't just go and hire everyone and everything, you have to make the concept much stronger. Overall shooting with a concept has given me a new lease on projects, I've spent years doing the same grindy work for hi-fi surf parts. You're going on trips trying your ass off, and for me, my ability level is nowhere near some of the other guys I go on trips with; like you go on a trip with Chippa and it's just fucking devastating cause he's doing the craziest shit. I might land a half decent air every one in thirty attempts and Chippa is landing multiple full rotes over your head in the same session. It can occasionally bum you out when you feel like you're not surfing well.
That's why these conceptual shoots bring a bit of the fun back. Obviously you still need to surf well, but the concepts and visuals are making me a lot more excited than just focusing on getting a crazy clip.
Well to an extent, almost everything seems to have been done. You need to work a point of difference that isn't purely surf based.
Yeah, that's right. Now everything is so instantaneous as well. Someone does the craziest air ever and it's up on the internet 20 minutes later. It's a nice time to try and do some different stuff.
Dion Agius working on a Stab's second incarnation of a concept.
Let's talk about the pool, how was Melbourne?
Super fun. I've been there twice now and had a ball.
How does it compare to Waco and the other pools you've surfed?
Pretty similar I guess, but I've only been to Waco once [for Stab High] and surfed it for one day with everyone else. I only got to surf the air setting while I was there but that was sick.
This one in Melbourne though we tried out probably four or five settings just in that first time.
Does it feel any more like a real wave than the other pools you've surfed?
I mean, it feels like a real wave in that you're standing up, you're moving along water and it has some power, but every other aspect doesn't feel anything like a normal wave: where you're sitting, the way you paddle in, and what you're looking at on the wave.
You don't know what the wave is going to do, well you can't tell from looking at it. In the ocean you can see down the line, and after years and years of surfing you can look down the line and tell what the wave is going to do; in a pool though, it's just emerging from the wall. Unless they tell you what the wave is going to do in advance you have no clue what will happen. Like one wave [in Melbourne] they changed the setting, I went to do a turn and then the bottom just completely dropped out.
What was that air section like?
Well, Chip and I went back to work on the ramp with the guys, and they definitely improved it from what you would've seen in the Stab clip. It still needs a little fine tuning, but it's going to be sick.
Chip and I were sitting in the water on walkie talkies designing the ramp, talking to the guys in the control centre and telling them what they could change after every wave.
This last week we saw clips of Harry [Bryant] on a 7'4" at Rocky Lefts and then Mason doing a punt on a 6'9", I guess you're mostly seen on boards under 6', do you ever get on any longer boards or see a benefit in doing so?
Just when I'm at home in Tassie really. Where I live the waves are pretty shitty – it's all just soft beach breaks – so unless it's a good day I ride a bigger board. I have this 6'8" from ages ago that I had shaped for paddling big slabs, which I never ended up really doing [laughs], so I ride that on two foot waves around home.
My Dad used to shape here as well and I have a big fat single fin of his that I ride around home a bunch. It's easy, quick, and goes well in gutless waves.
On trips and stuff though I take a 'step-up', but that's like 5'11" – I don't have much above that.
So you don't see a benefit for yourself riding longer boards?
I've gone up a little in length recently, but nothing in comparison to what other dudes are riding.
That surfing Creed was doing on longer boards though was sick.
Yeah, we've all been psyched on how good he looked.
He's such a big fucking dude with long limbs so it looks really balanced on Creed. Whereas if I rode a board of that length I'd look like a Tommy Carroll surfer doll. Saying that though, there's a section of him in Surfers of Fortune an old Quik movie at massive Narrabeen and it's one of my favourite sections of all time.
Dion at Stab High this year. There's a reason he's been co-opted by URBNSURF to help with their air section design.
Alright let's move into some more innocuous questions. Favourite male surfer?
Right now it would have to be Chippa, cause I'm in the car with him and I'm worried he's going to bash me if I don't say he's my favourite. I just saw his new clip the other day and it's just as psycho as his Octopus clip from last year. On the other hand there's Ando. I'm just so happy to watch Craig go along on a wave.
Him and Chippa are my two favourite at the moment although it's for completely different reasons. Chippa is just psycho technical and then Craig just has this incredible style.
Has to be either Steph [Gilmore] or Josie [Prendergast]. I've been loving watching Josie, her style is as smooth as silk. And then there's Steph who is an obvious go to for everyone.
You feel like you're doing a disservice not mentioning Steph [laughs].
The style she has, the nuances she has coming out of turns, she's similar to Craig in a way that they both have this economy of movement. Steph has so much fucking fun when she's surfing, you just can't not love her.
Alright favourite grom, under 18?
Has to be Oscar [Langburne], he's the man. Even aside from his surfing he's the nicest little dude I've ever met, the nicest heart, he's super stoked and all he wants to do is go surfing. We went on a trip to Indo recently and Oscar honestly would not come in; if he did, it was to grab a Mars bar and Coke and get straight back out there.
Even in the last couple years from when I first met him he's refined his surfing even more. Obviously his style is amazing, but he's improved a lot of aspects of his surfing all round.
Probably Creed, or maybe Craig's. Sorry you're asking me for favourites and I'm giving you two every time.
Nah it's cool, Ryan [Callinan] last week gave me about five names for every question, he's too damn nice.
[laughs] I can imagine that he's so nice.
But also then I have to mention Noa's clip, just filled with psycho power hacks, no bullshit, quick, gnarly, and raw.
Overall though Creed's surfing in his part was incredible. I also feel like I haven't seen much of Creed recently and that makes you even more psyched when he does release something. It was probably the best I've seen Creed surf in this clip and they scored such sick waves – that trip to Lakey they had was pumping. I also know how hard he would've worked on that part, it isn't easy to collect clips of that sort of calibre and it's really paid off.
Then with Craig's clip, well, Craig is obviously Craig and it's always good surfing, but the combination of him and Dav Fox [who filmed most of it] elevated it to the next level. He's honestly one of the most insane water cinematographers in the world, but this was just a whole 'nother level. Some of the shots and perspectives he caught were stunning, he did an amazing job. I first met Dav a few years ago on an Epokhe shoot through Tyge Landa, and our first shoot at Kiama Wedge he just absolutely nailed it. Since then, I've always loved working with him.
He's also one of the most knowledgable people in the world when it comes to swell, he's like a fucking scientist. When it comes to scoring waves around the world I don't know anyone who is more dialled in.
One of those moments to capture on film – freezing your ass off on a surfless trip in Iceland.
Let's move past surfing altogether [laughs] what would be your favourite hobby?
Is relaxing a hobby? [laughs].
Actually, I think being on the road; I've been shooting a bunch of stills. Just trying to capture behind the scenes on trips with my friends so I have a back catalogue of this time period and all the great trips I've been on.
On a film SLR or...
I have a little 35mm and then a medium format, but it's kind of a bitch to travel with, but depending on where I'm going I'll take either one. I've also been shooting a bit of video stuff for my Cult of Freedom part which we will hopefully use in the film.
Outside of that though I just try to relax when I'm at home. Even then I'm usually working on Epokhe shit. In saying that Epokhe has also been a bit of a hobby working with Kai [Neville] learning to make and design sunnies. Even though you could call Epokhe a job, it doesn't feel like work when it's your own project.
You're not working for a salary you're just working to see it succeed.
Kai and I for the first five or six years didn't take a cent from the company and were working on it non-stop.
We moved past photography a little, but what are you thoughts on social media, I guess particularly Instagram?
Umm, to be honest all the recent stuff happening with people using it to raise awareness about environmental causes and whatnot, I think that far outweighs all the shitty sides of social media. Like I don't know what the long term effects of screen use will be, but that feels like a negative. These negatives though just don't seem to outweigh the positives of being able to spread a message really quickly, raise money – like the fires right now – or even promote awareness about global warming and motivate people to act.
That aspect of social media is truly powerful. Right now, in my opinion, that far outweighs the negatives.
Best book you've read this year?
Mmm, one called King of the Wilderness on this guy called Deny King [by Christobel Mattingley] who was a miner in the south-west of Tassie living in complete wilderness mining tin throughout winter. It's such a crazy story and then it's intertwined with a crazy love story – a really sick book.
It's just a bit of an insight into life down here in Tasmania during [the early 20th century] and it really makes you feel like a complete fucking pussy [laughs]. He was down there in the south-west digging dirt up for tin and then getting on his boat in some of the roughest ocean in the world to get it back to Hobart and then sell it for 20 cents – it's insane. It makes you re-evaluate how lucky we have it today.
It's nice to read an Australian story too, there aren't many stories like that told, or at the very least they're not all that popular.
Yeah, and it also had a bunch of stuff about Tasmania's history in general.
Okay, last one, favourite artist, or whoever you're listening to the most right now?
Right now I'd have to say Roy Orbison. One of my best friends in Melbourne's wife is obsessed with Roy Orbison which sort of got me into him. I've always known him, but I watched Blue Velvet recently too and there's this scene where he's singing a Roy Orbison song and it got stuck in my head, then I just dove deep into his catalogue.
Nowadays there isn't really that many artists that have a voice like his, or maybe I just don't know them, but from what I've heard no one has really replicated that. Well I guess I've been into Chris Isaak as well who is sort of the modern day equivalent, but overall I've just had Roy Orbison on repeat.