I got a ride to class with Mike the other day and interviewed him while we traversed the Queensway. Our conversation went something like this:
When did you begin making Currents?
I came up with the idea last December to do a documentary that visited 12 locations, and tied together the themes that carry through the whitewater kayaking community, and realized it couldn’t be done all at once. So I decided to do it on an episode basis. I started April first and have been doing about an episode a month. It’s an ongoing process, you’ve always gotta be working on it. I can’t be everywhere, so people with other projects have helped me out along the way. Episodes from South Korea and Thailand, for example.
For your latest episode of Currents you traveled to Northern Quebec to document rivers at risk. How much time did you spend on this trip?
We paddle in Quebec a lot as is, and one of things we’ve noticed is that there’s incredible whitewater and incredible rivers that have barely been explored... What's become apparent is that there are limitless possibilities for whitewater kayaking in the region.
This May we spent a lot of time in the Chicoutimi area, that’s when I really started work on the episode. In July I was invited to paddle the Romaine River. It’s really a perfect river to display what’s happening. It’s up north, and it has absolutely incredible scenery and wildlife. You’re in a world that you don’t get to experience where we are right now. The Romaine is also a river that at the time we paddled it, it was evident that time was running out on paddling this river in a free flowing state. It was important for us to document the river and the environment.
On day 3 we came to a dam under construction, and it was clear that hydroelectric power isn’t green by any means. The infrastructure development and blasting is destroying something that’s existed for millions of years, for short term gain.
You’ve done 7 episodes of Currents and there are 5 more to go in the season. What are your short term and long term plans for this project?
I think every episode has gotten better. Because of the course I’ve really started to visualize what are gonna be some pretty awesome episodes - thematically and structurally. On the agenda we have Thailand, New York, and Mexico – they’re gonna be the next three. I don’t know about the final episode yet. Something good.
Despite all the kayaking I’ve gotten out of it, I’m really stoked about getting messages out. I’m using Currents as a platform for me to do lots of things in the industry to promote the sport itself.
Right now I’m brainstorming what I’ll do after this season. There’s a few things. One, I’m giving up a bit of it – every episode I can work with a well known outdoor filmmaker and I’ve already booked the first five with kayakers known for their paddling and their filmmaking. That’s really exciting for me. I want to branch out into other water sports and explore all avenues of water, not just white water, but explore coastline, all kinds of issues. Whitewater kayaking is a small market, and if I can get a message out to more people, that’s my goal.