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HANK LEUKART

FILMMAKER. TECH CREATIVE. WRITER. TRAVEL ADDICT.
 

 

People aren't just one thing.

I'm passionate about using technology to telling compelling, immersive stories. I work as a filmmaker in Los Angeles, producing documentary films, documentary series, and other television shows for major content networks. I focus on creating adventure travel films and TV shows that let viewers experience amazing journeys in exotic locales. 

I've also worked as a software designer, building technology experiences to make online social interaction better.  I love computer and video games, especially as a storytelling medium. I published a book about the iconic computer game, Doom.

Believe it or not, I spend my unpaid time on a lot of the same stuff. I've written, directed, and edited tons of videos and essays about travel experiences for my blog, Without Baggage.  I've traveled all over the world and have walked (and kayaked) across entire countries with just a backpack. Ask me someday about the time a scorpion bit me in the middle of the night while I was sleeping in a tent in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

 

 Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Television Series

I produce television shows for major content networks. I have worked in pre-production, planning series creative elements and logistics; production, as a director and story producer; and post-production, building story arcs with editors.  I've produced documentary series like CNN’s Declassified and DIRECTV’s Religion of Sports, iconic reality shows like Big Brother and The American Baking Competition, and a wide-variety of adventure-travel series. I raced, literally around the world, as a producer for CBS’s The Amazing Race; survived weeks in the Panamanian jungle and Peruvian Amazon for Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, stalked prey in an intense manhunt through the Sierra Nevada for The CW’s Capture; kayaked and bushwhacked through a remote chain of Fijian islands for TNT’s 72 Hours; hiked across Morocco with a camera for ABC’s Expedition Impossible; and worked with expert marskmen, firing gatling guns and grenade launchers in the California desert, for History’s Top Shot.

Films

I've directed, shot, and edited documentary films about education for disadvantaged youth, environmental conservation, and global human rights.

MARS ACADEMY

Four scientists travel to Brazil's City of God, an impoverished Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, where they spend two weeks in a local school teaching kids about science. There, they surprise the kids with an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiment: the chance to do their own exploring on Mars using an actual NASA spacecraft.

BEARS EARS

When my friend Jake and I headed out on a backpacking and packrafting trip to explore Utah's Bears Ears National Monument, the protected area created by President Barack Obama and recently slashed by Donald Trump, we discovered a political battle that epitomizes the strange culture war sweeping the nation.

UMBRELLA DREAMS

I spent four days at the 2014 Occupy Hong Kong protest camps at Admiralty and Mong Kok, talking to everyone who was willing to talk to me and answer my burning questions about why protesting for democracy is so important. I was struck by the students’ pure intentions and the complexity of the political issues, and I filmed as the Hong Police tried to forcibly remove them from the streets.

Tech Experience

So, this is a weird story.  When I was 15 years old, I managed to become an online celebrity at the dawn of the internet's popularity. Through regular writing in online computer gaming forums, I quickly became known as the biggest fan ever of the iconic and groundbreaking computer game, Doom.  Eventually, I wrote and published a popular book about how to hack Doom, and The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and People Magazine wrote about me and the book.

Eventually, after majoring in Computer Science (and Film & Television) at Dartmouth College, I became a Program Manager for Microsoft Outlook and designed a bunch of features in the product that you almost certainly still use today.

I've also had experience coding an early Content Management System for college newspapers and a couple computer games (no, you can't play them anymore).

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Adventures

I’ve traveled to over 50 countries while making films and writing for my blog, Without Baggage. My travel philosophy is to avoid all the things that kill the fun of travel — guides, pre-planned itineraries, and heavy luggage — and embrace independent adventure. On recent trips, I have hiked and paddled 370 miles across New Zealand's South Island, walked 580 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, trekked 115 miles with my brother across Iceland, climbed 191 miles in Nepal over the Three Passes and to Everest Base Camp, backpacked in post-revolution Egypt, boated down the Congo River, cycled through Vietnam, snowshoed the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, packrafted Alaska’s Denali, and hiked in Chilean Patagonia.

 

NEW ZEALAND PACKRAFT TRAVERSE (2016)

In 2016, I set out to traverse the length of New Zealand's South Island on a custom, 1,700-kilometer (1,050-mile) route across the island, using a packraft. I turned this trip into an emotional rollercoaster of a daily YouTube web series.

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO (2015)

In 2015, I walked 880 kilometers (550 miles) from France, across Spain, to the Atlantic Ocean on the Camino de Santiago.  This is a historical pilgrimage done by people from all over the world, and I made a popular, short film on YouTube about the journey.

JOHN MUIR TRAIL (2017)

My brother and I meet every year somewhere in the wilderness for a brotherly adventure. We've hiked through Alaska's Denali, Chilean Patagonia, on the West Coast Trail, and through the Grand Canyon. Last year, we hiked 370 kilometeres (228 miles) on the John Muir Trail in the California Sierra.

ICELAND TRAVERSE (2014)

In 2014, my brother and I set out to hike from Iceland's south coast to its north coast in under two weeks. We hiked about 185 kilometers (115 miles). The scenery was stunning, and we turned the trip into a short adventure film.