What do you get when you combine a nationally known comedian, a bank and a Wilmington film company?
The mixture yielded Hart of It All
, a film created by Lighthouse Films, produced by Chase Bank and starring comedian and actor Kevin Hart.
Its focus is on promoting financial literacy, generational wealth and entrepreneurship to communities that often lack ready economic opportunities, featuring Hart interacting with people in predominately Black and brown communities across the country, talking about basic financial and small business topics.
In May 2021, officials at Chase, a Lighthouse client for the past decade, approached Lighthouse co-owner Brad Walker and California filmmaker/producer Mark Hosack about the project, inviting them to pitch it to them. Hart Of It All
is sponsored by Chase, and streaming on Peacock.
Chase had worked with Hart on a first season of the project. Hosack, tapped to be the story producer, was very familiar with Hart’s comedic talent and acting achievements.
The project was to be a second season of a series Chase was producing on the topic. The first season, Hosack said Thursday, was scripted and used actors. Lighthouse had a different vision for the second season.
"When we pitched this to Chase, we wanted it to be an authentic story about Kevin Hart and financial literacy [issues]," Walker said. "It was our priority to surround ourselves with a diverse crew in production and post-production."
“We wanted to put Kevin together with people struggling with financial matters,” Hosack continued. “Lighthouse’s mission is bringing a humanizing element; humanizing brands. Brad’s instinct was to take the project from a scripted show to a documentary.”
Hart was on board, along with his own Hartbeat Studios, and the project soon took on a broader geographical scope, traveling from the comedian’s base in Los Angeles to other cities, including North Philadelphia, where he grew up.
“Kevin has an amazing platform to tell the story,” Walker said. Hosack agreed.
“He had the ability to put together his thoughts and engage in such an articulate way with the people he met,” Hosack said. “He knew the issues of these communities because he had been raised in one.”
Chase producers found many of the venues for the show, including a barbershop, where the Lighthouse team filmed for two hours. Among all the locations in the film, Walker and Hosack agreed that the barbershop was “the heart of Hart of It All.”
And it was a real place, said Tyler Zibaie, one of Hart Of It All's producers and the account manager for Lighthouse Films. He was tasked with finding many of the local people featured in the documentary.
“It’s a place that has been rooted in the community for a while,” he said. “It drives home the message of the documentary itself, with people talking about redlining, giving back, entrepreneurship.”
Hart, with his personal background and stand-up skills, was a quick study, according to Walker.
“He would show up to the set, and we would give him a preview about the characters and so forth,” Walker said. “Parents would drop off their children, and he would teach them for an hour-and-a-half about things you don’t learn in the school system. Kevin would improvise and ask questions.”
Lighthouse Films, which also rents equipment to other film projects in the Wilmington area, found that its team couldn’t transport all the equipment it needed for this film. In Los Angeles, the crew rented a crane and some other pieces that would be difficult to transport by airplane. Their crew also managed a variety of other teams at each location. Hart’s team alone numbered 12 people. Chase had its own team. Also involved was West Hollywood-based Promethean Pictures.
“We shot in Philadelphia, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles; we are really great as a company at scaling per the demands of a location,” Zibaie said. “We had a crew in each location: in some instances, more than 60 people. When we shoot a lot of our commercials, because of the scale, we manage more than 100 people on a set, so we are good at it.”
The project, which took about 18 months in total, aligned well with Lighthouse’s mission, Walker said.
“First and foremost, our goal is to inspire through the films we create,” he said. “This [film] was a golden fit, totally aligned with that mission. We used everything we knew how to do from a human level to get this authentic film about financial literacy. Why is financial literacy not a priority in school, talking about issues like credit, building generational wealth, entrepreneurship? It was super exciting for us.”
Hart of It All
was released at the end of December on Peacock
and in early January on Apple TV+.