Liam “Agent Stryder” Fournier, 20, is an up-and-coming name in the world of whitewater paddling and filmmaking. An attendee of World Class Academy kayak school, Fournier interned with Rush Sturges a few years ago to learn the tricks of both trades. Our Week in Review video curator Kai Myers sat down with Fournier recently to chat about his expedition to California last summer that became the basis for his new film, ‘Granite Babylon.’ These rivers seem pretty full on. Had you paddled these runs before?
Liam Fournier: No one in our group had paddled these rivers before which made the group dynamic pretty interesting. We were constantly discussing lines with each other and we always had different opinions. Not knowing what was around the next bend or horizon made for a unique experience.

You mention in the video that paddlers flocked from around the world to come paddle in California this past spring to kayak the best runoff in years. How did that affect your experience?
We met people from all over the world who came to California for the season–Germany, France, Spain, South America, New Zealand, the list goes on. It made for a great bonding experience and all of us came out of the trip with new friends.

This film is not your standard kayak porn set to rap. Why did you choose the narrative form you did to tell your story?
Recently I have lost a lot of interest in watching short videos, not just of kayaking but of skiing, biking, etc. They start to become a little repetitive. A new ski series called Seeking Nirvana inspired me to create a narrative film that demonstrates great cinematography, kayaking, and an easy going lifestyle. Through the storyline you are able to connect with your audience, helping them feel they are involved in the [whitewater].

I ran into you in Coloma the day after you hurt your shoulder on South Silver Creek. Tell us a little bit about the experience of being injured. If you couldn’t paddle, what role did you play on the trip?
Dislocating my shoulder early on in the trip made for a difficult experience. I have never been put in a position where I couldn’t paddle and was forced to run shuttle. I chose to stay with the group instead of heading back to Canada so I could focus on the filming. Although I didn’t get to be on the water with my friends, I still got to camp beside the river and get some badass shots that I never would have managed if my priority had been paddling.

How does someone make this kind of trip happen?
Obviously practice and experience are a huge asset into making a trip like this happen. I’d say the biggest thing is having a group that you trust on the river. Sandy, Chris and I have paddled together for so long that we know each other’s comfort zones and abilities. We know when to challenge one another and when it’s the right time to walk. There is no ego between us; we are out there looking to have fun, push each other, and enjoy the places we are lucky enough to experience from our boats.

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