James Wilder Hancock BA ’86


James Wilder Hancock BA ’86 writes: “The last 18 months have been an exercise in extreme transition. Shifting professional priorities, continental walks, embracing minimalism, and a more nomadic lifestyle mean adaptation and transformation have become my daily companions. In spring 2022, I completed my job on Henry Sellick’s Netflix movie, Wendell and Wild, in Portland, which I am forever grateful to have had during the lockdowns of 2020. I started the gig in 2019, mere days after my completion of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. The project carried me all the way through to my start of the Continental Divide Trail, which I spent nearly five months walking last summer. My experience of both trails—a cumulative 5,400 miles—was life changing in itself. Mile after mile, on foot, I encountered wondrous beauty, unrelenting nature, and near-daily tests of perseverance. It was an ideal environment to ponder one’s past choices and future goals. By the time I completed my Continental Divide Trail journey in mid-November of last year, I had recommitted myself to goals—not forgotten—but put on hold in deference to more immediate needs, like food and rent. After my long walk, I returned to Portland for a couple months to focus on screenwriting and reducing what was left of my possessions in storage to as close to zero as possible. It took two whole months, but I sold, donated, or passed down almost everything in that storage unit. I am now down to five bags, which still feels like too much since I can comfortably travel and live out of two most of the time. This is all to serve another requirement of my new life, which is to be freer to travel and live clutter free, both in mind and material. All of this serves to allow me to focus 100 percent of my career going forward on writing and producing, which was my original intent when I embarked on this professional filmmaking vector some 30 years ago. So now, instead of filling my days with job searches, I am crafting story, scheduling productions, and cultivating investor pools. I am currently residing in and developing/producing wildly entertaining film projects in LA. However, I have recently returned from my first trip to Maui, where I spent a month falling in love with the island. As soon as I got back to the mainland, I wrote a business plan for a hybrid stop-motion studio in Wailuku and am fully prepared—mentally and emotionally, at least—to live out the rest of my days on that magical bit of land.”


James Wilder Hancock ’86 finally crossed off an important milestone on the bucket list he’s had since 1983: He spent six and a half months walking the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada.