Highlights from the Highlife

Fred Norquist on his latest whitewater video

Fred Norquist has spent the last few years of his young life on a never-ending quest to paddle and film the best whitewater on earth. The 21-year-old Coloradan has traveled the world with some of the most electrifying kayakers on the planet, including C&K 2013 Paddler of the Year Evan Garcia, with whom he founded Substantial Media House. The new company is fast becoming a leading purveyor of whitewater action films. Norquist’s latest, a highlight reel condensing more than two years of spectacular whitewater into an 11-minute thrill-ride, is no exception.

We caught up with Norquist to talk about his adventures as a kayaker and filmmaker. Here’s what he had to say:

CanoeKayak.com: What were some learning moments for you as a boater and a filmmaker?Fred Norquist: I would say the most learning I did in my paddling happened the first year I went to Chile with Demshitz and the Garcia brothers back in 2009. I was a total beater that year, crashing on a lot of drops. Paddling with Jared, Fusilli, Graham, Evan and Ian made me realize I had lots to learn about paddling. After that year I was super motivated, moved to Washington and vowed that I would spend as much time in my boat as possible. Since then it’s been a crazy ride of chasing whitewater all over the place.

Another huge moment for me was paddling the Grand Canyon of the Stikine last year. The Stikine is an amazing place, holds some of the gnarliest Class V big water on the planet in a very remote location, and to me is essentially the ultimate river experience. Each day on the river is a learning experience so I think it’s important to understand that it all adds up—the more kayaking the better.

Filmmaking has been one of my passions since 2006 when I went to World Class Kayak Academy. The most learning in my filmmaking happened when I bought a Canon 7D about four years ago. Shortly after that Evan and I started making Bomb Flow TV. A lot of progression happened in the year; we produced the 12 30-minute Bomb Flow TV Episodes. I got a lot better at shooting and editing through spending tons of time on the computer making each video. Evan and I have now started our own company called Substantial Media House and have produced five episodes. We just purchased a Sony FS700, which means I will have lots to learn about how to capture incredible footage and edit with the new camera. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next couple years.

Who has been the most influential to you?
The entire kayaking community has been so influential, but I would say some of the most influential people I’ve paddled with have been Evan Garcia, Jake Sakson, Rush Sturges, Aniol Serrasolses, Anton Immler, Ben Marr, Jared and Graham Seiler, Dave Fusilli, Isaac Levinson, Tyler Bradt, Kurt Braunlich, Sam Damon, Peter Benedict, Tom McKee, Eric Parker, Kyle Hull and Erik Johnson. Paddling with these people has inspired me to pursue my dream, improve my paddling and filmmaking and enjoy the kayaker lifestyle to the fullest. A lot of these friends also contributed footage for this video too, so big thanks to everyone who helped!

What are we not seeing in this video?
I’ve been filming my paddling exploits for about seven years now, and to me this video signifies the last three years of paddling, filmmaking and living life to follow my passion. There are a lot of exploits that didn’t make it in the video for various reasons. Some not “PC” enough for public viewing, some crashes I didn’t want my mom to see and a lot of ridiculous off-the-river entertainment that didn’t really pertain.

What are your plans for the next highlight reel? Where you headed?
Next highlight reel probably won’t be for a while … but plans are to make it way better than my current one with gnarlier kayaking, better footage and hopefully some crazy shit no one will expect! Destinations are unknown as of now … I don’t like to plan too far ahead.

You and others have fully pursued what you love—not made really any compromises for it. What can you say to the upcoming generation of paddlers as they try to decide what to do about their futures?
If you have something you really love put all your effort into it, and as long as you work hard and pursue your dreams it will all work out. One of my favorite saying is … “It’ll pan out”.

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  • Tyler A

    Business in the front, Party in the back!!! hell yea fred, brown claw all day ;)

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