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HANK LEUKART

FILMMAKER. TV PRODUCER. CREATIVE executive. adventure ADDICT.
 

 

People aren't just one thing.

I'm passionate about using technology to tell compelling, immersive stories. I'm a creative executive with 12 years of experience as a producer and director on over 20 films and series. I have a great track record both identifying viable ideas and nurturing projects through the development process. I've directed feature documentary and award-winning documentary shorts, and I have extensive experience supervising production and post-production of all types of unscripted content.

I’m also passionate about technology’s power to connect people. I’ve worked as a product manager and designer at Microsoft, building software to improve online social experiences. I have lots of experience translating vision, strategy, and roadmaps into fully-defined products and managing engineering of massive-scale consumer software. I’m also a big computer games and virtual reality fan, especially as powerful storytelling mediums. I even once published a book about the iconic computer game, Doom.

I’m especially well-versed in developing, producing, and directing film projects that combine adventure and travel to unusual locales with socially-conscious issues like environmental conservation, human rights, and education. Ask me about the time a scorpion bit me in the Sahara Desert in Morocco while I was filming a television series.

 

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Television Series

I produce television shows for major content networks. I have worked in pre-production, developing series concepts, creative elements, and planning logistics; production, as a director and story producer; and post-production, supervising episode stories 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 direct, shoot, and edit documentary films, and I have extensive experience supervising production and post-production of all types of unscripted content. I’m especially well-versed in developing, producing, and directing film projects that combine adventure and travel to unusual locales with socially-conscious issues like environmental conservation, human rights, and education.

THE 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.

Technology

I’m passionate about all kinds of technology and its power to connect people and make people’s lives better. For six years, I worked as a senior product manager and designer on Microsoft Outlook, where I turned ambitious ideas into fully-defined products and software features. I also designed and managed the engineering of many Outlook features that people still use every day, including the To-Do Bar, Quick Flags, Category Colors, Overlaid Calendars, Tasks on the Calendar, and Smart Folders.

I’m also a big computer games and virtual reality fan. Weird story: when I was 15 years old, I managed to become an early internet celebrity through regular writing in online computer gaming forums. Eventually, I wrote and published a popular book about how to hack the iconic computer game Doom, and The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and People Magazine wrote about me and the book.

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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.

GLACIER BAY, ALASKA KAYAK (2018)

In September 2018, I spent two weeks paddling up the East Arm of Glacier Bay National Park to Muir Glacier with my friends Rebecca Grimm and Leo Mahlke. The two had spent the previous four months paddling the Inside Passage from Salt Spring Island, BC to Alaska. I filmed all of our trip and created a sizzle reel of their trip.

NEW ZEALAND PACKRAFT TRAVERSE (2016 & 2018)

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 web series.

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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.

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 about the journey.

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.