Karina Rozunko Made A Short Surf Film Unlike Most You've Seen - Stab Mag

Karina Rozunko Made A Short Surf Film Unlike Most You’ve Seen

Here, she talks background, inspiration, and more.

Uncategorized // Apr 1, 2000
Words by Corina Stephens
Reading Time: 5 minutes

With a name that’s been present in longboard circles for what seems like decades, it’s easy to forget that Karina Rozunko has yet to break the 30-year mark.

Raised in a family of surfers, at the epicenter of California surf culture, it would seem as though she’d been predestined for a career in the lineup since day dot. 

But, what came naturally to the natural footer in the water was never the end-all when it came to personal expression. Owing to familial and friendly influences — as well as an early education in the stylings of surfers and filmmakers from the ’60s and the early-2000s — Karina’s style extends into all areas of her life. 

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Following the live premieres of her new film, Haiku, I sat down with the San Clemente native, who now resides in Canggu part-time. Over a couple of hours and some chilled Topo Chicos, we talked film projects, future plans, and how living abroad has transformed the 27-year-old switch savant for the better.

“I’ve been there for the past three years now. I think living in Indo during the pandemic changed me. I always had some attachment to being here [in California] but being there and knowing I couldn’t come back kind of felt good. I felt released from an attachment in a way. 

Living in a different country – a third-world country – has broadened my thinking on everything. It’s changed my perspective a lot… I feel more free than ever right now, which is nice. I think getting out of the bubble that I grew up in – with the same opinions and the same people I’ve always been around – and experiencing new things has helped me get to that point.”

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Having watched Karina and her surfing evolve over the years – from a catsuit-clad Sano regular to a modern longboarding luminary with multiple Vans collections under her high-waisted belt – I wanted to learn more about the roots from which she’s sprouted.

“My dad was a huge influence on my surf life. He was always ingraining surf history into me. We had this chest that held VHS after VHS after VHS inside. We would watch Thomas Campbell’s Sprout and One California Day by Jason Baffa, and Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer a lot.

I was definitely influenced by all those old surf movies and surfing from the ’60s. But Kassia Meador was another influence, as well as Jen Smith. I thought they were so cool. And Alex [Knost], of course – I’d see him down at Sano and he was very supportive of my surfing. Like, when I would go on a wave and he’d hoot, I remember thinking, ‘Oh gosh, that’s so sick.’

I was drawn to them because they were all doing other stuff. Al was making music, and Kassia was writing poetry and taking photos… It was so cool to me that they were doing something other than just being a surfer. That generation was very inspiring for me.”

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With influences like these, it takes little stretch of the imagination to understand how the youngest Rozunko’s enviable and inimitable style developed. I wanted to learn more about the inspiration which fuels her painting, poetry, and ideas expressed in her latest film, co-directed by Karina and her partner, Jimmy Jazz. 

“There are so many things that inspire me, from music to art to travel. Everything, really. This sounds cliche but when I’m out and about, I’ll notice random things like a bug on a leaf, or a painting on a wall from 20 years ago by a kid in Lombok, or a prayer song in a Muslim mosque. The different sounds and sights around me when I’m somewhere else are all inspiring to me.

When Jimmy and I did our first project together, I realized there was so much opportunity for us to bounce ideas off of each other and make something really cool. I think watching those old movies with my dad definitely had an impact; they were so fun to watch and had such nice stories. Even when I was young, I knew that I wanted to make something that I personally would want to watch, because cause I hadn’t seen something like that yet. Those films were always in the back of my mind.

Making Haiku had its challenges but was really fun. I’m really proud that Jimmy and I ended up creating something over five minutes, over 10 minutes, you know? I’m proud that we finished something. It’s definitely one of my biggest accomplishments.”

Rini’s latest opus: A 17-minute ode to unrestrained surfing and a trio of Japanese stanzas.

Karina laughed when I asked what’s coming next from her, whether three months or three years from now. “I’m trying to think of what I’m doing in the next six months! I can’t even imagine after that. I don’t have a schedule in my life and am just trying to decide if I need to be in Indo or California right now. I’m like a leaf in the wind.

When pressed, she shared more, saying, “If I’m still alive three years or thirty years from now, I envision myself maybe living on a big piece of property — like a big farm with an art studio and a shaping bay, near the ocean somewhere. I think it would be so fun to have different mini-houses on the property and have friends come to stay. It sounds like a commune [laughs] but friends could come over and shape boards or have artist residencies. That’s definitely something I want to do at some point.”

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“We have friends from all over the world and, up until now, I’ve lived at everyone’s house and on everyone’s couches and, I feel like, ‘Okay, one day I’m gonna give this back to all of my friends.’

I love the city, but I love the country too. I guess I’m 50-50. If I’m in the city for too long, I feel like I need open space. But then after being in the middle of the jungle for a while, I want to go out in the city and see some things. I don’t think I could appreciate one without the other… and you can only look at so many banana leaves.”

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Looking back at her journey from one Old Man’s to another, Karina shared that she has no real regrets to speak of, but that she hopes to see some changes in surf culture going forward.

“Everything’s played out pretty well. Now that [Haiku] has wrapped up, I’m excited to just go surf by myself. I haven’t just surfed without shooting in so long. I’m really lucky to have someone to film me all the time but sometimes, I just want to surf and not have to work on something or feel that pressure. I just want to enjoy it. 

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That’s the part of me that wants to go to the jungle [laughs] but I’m also looking forward to the next film project already. I’m hoping it will be something different than anything I’ve done before.”

Whatever that may be, we’ll look forward to watching whatever the multi-talent evolve and express herself, both on the wave and off.


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