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HartBeat Pitch Contest Raises BCE Profile, Introduces Next Gen Writers to Execs

Matt Berry stands in front of a projector screen while people sit at a table in front of him
Matt Berry ’24 pitches his idea, The Comedy Show, to HartBeat Productions executives.

Winning the Finding Hart Pitch Competition was a dream come true for Lindsay Decker ’24.

Decker was one of three winners, who, along with Matt Berry ’24 and Alaina Reyes ’24, were flown out to Los Angeles to visit comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Productions studios. There, on May 16, they met with the company’s production team and experienced what it’s like to work at HartBeat.

“Getting flown out to Los Angeles from this contest was surreal in every way,” said Decker. “Walking into HartBeat is a moment that will play in my head for the rest of my life. I felt instantly calm, almost as if I was meant to be there.”

The competition was a collaboration between Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE) senior residency project and HartBeat Productions. In the fall, BCE students formed their own mock consultant company, Empulse Innovation, and worked with HartBeat as their client. BCE students pitched different ways for HartBeat and Emerson to collaborate, and the pilot pitch contest excited HartBeat.

The competition was open to the entire college and 49 submissions were fielded, said BCE Executive-in-Residence Jae Williams ’08, MA ’16. Williams said he loved that the contest was a tangible experience, and that the winners pitched their ideas and received feedback from Hollywood executives.

“Students got a chance to showcase their work like they hadn’t before,” said Williams. “They put their idea on paper or a slide deck and actually got it seen by executives at a production company actually making stuff.”

Four people sit a news desk listening to one person in a chair and another person sitting in a chair
Eric Eddings, VP of Audio for HartBeat Productions (back to camera), speaks to Emerson students on the podcast set with BCE Executive-in-Residence Jae Williams ’08, MA ’16, far right.

The winners’ visit included different sessions with HartBeat executives to learn about how to get noticed as a writer or director in Hollywood, digital content creation and content distribution, how to standout as a candidate for production companies, and the nitty gritty of physical production and operations. The students received lunch, dinner, and accommodations.

Decker pitched Late Bloomers, which was a group effort developed in Visual & Media Arts Associate Professor Manny Basanese’s Comedy Writer’s Room class. Decker developed the show alongside Kaige Chen ’25, Ryan McCarthy ’24, Aiden Owen ’25, Natalie Taylor ’24, and TJ Taylor ’24.  

Late Bloomers is a show that sheds light on the stigmas around aging in a fun and comedic way,” said Decker. “It takes place in an ‘alternative’ assisted living/nursing home facility in which the social environment heavily mirrors that of a high school. Our slogan is ‘It’s like Mean Girls for old people’.”

Emerson students and faculty with a HartBeat Productions employee pose in front of a wall sign that says HartBeat
BCE Executive-in-Residence Jae Williams and students visit Hartbeat Productions studios in May.

Williams was proud that submissions for the pitch contest came from students across the Emerson community.

“There were Comedic Arts, writing students, and other majors. Some didn’t know about BCE, but now know what BCE is doing,” said Williams. “That was really dope about opening it to the entire Emerson community. We built BCE’s visibility through this project.”

Decker added she felt the pitch contest fit perfectly with her Emerson education.

“This pitch deck let me take what I have learned from an assortment of classes and put it all together,” said Decker. “This contest, even without the knowledge of winning, solidified my love for comedy TV writing and producing.”

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