Incubate founder Joey Horvitz is a seasoned producer, filmmaker, and storyteller with over twenty-five years of entertainment industry experience. His expertise includes development, production, distribution, brand integration, marketing and talent relations. He is also a recently inducted member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Being invited to join the Academy in 2021 was a wonderful surprise and a highlight of his career.
At his core, Joey has always been a storyteller and ideator. In 2019, he moved one step closer to his vision: to establish an innovative company with the purpose of searching out compelling stories of meaning and purpose. Incubate was hatched.
As a product of the ‘80s, Joey’s sensibilities as a creator were profoundly impacted by the era’s music, movies, TV and video games. This golden age of popular culture laid the groundwork for Horvitz’s colorful career as a multi-hyphenate in the entertainment industry.
Throughout his adolescence, Joey performed in theatre, tried his hand at creative writing, and sang in choirs, musicals, or wherever anyone would listen, always sounding best in the shower. Instead of following the usual trajectory after high school, he spent a year abroad in Israel. There he explored his roots, studied archaeology and worked on a kibbutz, driving tractors and laying irrigation pipes, all the while building an impressive tan.
Upon his return to the States, he continued pursuing acting. He booked several commercials, but nothing of substance. When his manager returned his headshots with a note stating, “Can’t help you,” Horvitz took this as a sign from the universe. The time had come to consider a different path.
It didn’t take him long to discover that he was better suited behind the camera. Gifted with a consistent flow of creative ideas, Horvitz decided to study communication, film and creative writing. In his final year of college, he got one of those lucky breaks that seemed to come out of nowhere — a break that led to a foundational phase in his career. A close colleague and friend who was starting a production company invited Horvitz to join him in this venture.
At Cutting Edge Entertainment, Horvitz dove in headfirst. From fundraising and film development to production, post, and marketing, he immersed himself in the film business and learned by doing. When Cutting Edge entered the international distribution space, he added film licensing to his growing list of skills and abilities.
By the age of 23, Joey was traveling the globe, attending all major film festivals and markets. For well over a decade, he frequented London, Paris, Milan, and Cannes on the annual circuit. International travel infused his core DNA with wonder, culture and a cosmopolitan perspective. This global viewpoint was fundamental in rounding out his passion for storytelling and priming him for his next venture — founding Contagious Entertainment.
At Contagious, Horvitz secured a multi-picture deal with an independent film studio and raised capital for an international film fund. This fund backed several of the company's projects over a variety of platforms including the Oscar-nominated film, The Illusionist.
Joey’s adventures in his twenties and thirties proved to be an ideal incubator for his short-form narrative ideas and concepts. Utilizing his mild to moderate case of OCD, he took a full year to collect, decipher and organize this treasure trove of ideas into a comprehensive database worthy of a gold star. Armed with this arsenal of content, he shifted focus to commercials and original internet programming.
Circa 2010, Horvitz co-founded GeekNation, a one-stop shop for all things geek-culture and popular entertainment. From live panels at Comicon to podcasts and original web series, GeekNation produced original content for the online programming boom of the early 2010s.
Previous to GeekNation, Horvitz spent many years working in commercial production. Much like his experience in film, he wore several hats (coordinator, producer, director) as he was introduced to a dynamic similar, yet more nuanced than the film world he knew so well. Here he worked directly with high-visibility agencies and brands, including, Nike, Wieden+Kennedy, Target, Leo Burnett, Verizon, McCann Erickson, Lowe's, Ogilvy, Hardees, and Subaru.
This eclectic mixtape of invaluable life experiences prepared Joey perfectly for the next exciting step along his journey.
In 2012, as the media landscape was shifting, Lexus, in partnership with The Weinstein Company, aspired to enter the original content game. Given his extensive experience in features, short-form, and commercials, storyteller Horvitz was the perfect fit to spearhead this initiative.
Over a period of six years, Joey produced four seasons of what became known as Lexus Short Films. To realize this program, he was tasked with the mission of scouring the globe for emerging artists and bringing their captivating stories to an international audience. In its fourth season, the program received over 6,000 submissions from 175 countries. Lexus Short Films soon became the model for brand-supported content. From creative development and production to marketing and distribution, Horvitz was the executive in charge, working on all aspects of the initiative.
Horvitz produced all films on location in Los Angeles, San Jose, Paris, Dublin, Australia, Tokyo, Auckland, and Hong Kong. This diverse slate of films, ranging from live-action and animation to narrative and experimental, competed for years all over the international film festival circuit. Lexus Short Films secured hundreds of awards internationally, including the prestigious Cannes Lion. These films have garnered tens of millions of views globally across a wide range of video platforms, including Broadcast, Prime Video, YouTube, Facebook Watch, Vimeo Staff Picks, and Airlines.
The remarkable success of Lexus Short Films led Horvitz to launching and running a short-film division at the company, unaware of the shifting tides that loomed ahead. As the program was preparing a new slate of films, the Weinstein scandal broke. As the sky fell at the company, Joey’s world crashed with it, and his trailblazing initiative came to an abrupt end.
Knowing that the scandal had a silver lining, initiating a much-needed movement of change, was cold comfort to Joey Horvitz. He needed time to process and regroup, but time was not on his side. Devastating losses in his personal life soon followed, ushering in a period of darkness, but also an opportunity to turn his mess into his message.
Joey was forced to acknowledge and accept that, like it or not, change was afoot. He took some time to reflect and rebuild. Little did he know that soon the entire planet would be propelled into a period of its own reflection and transformation. Down but not out, Horvitz emerged from the scandal with greater strength, clarity, and determination to reclaim his dream. In 2019, he fully embraced his passion for story and launched Incubate. Not long after, the world began to shut down. As the pandemic swept across the globe, many businesses were kneecapped, and Incubate was no exception. One project did make it to production — a short film series sponsored by Bumble and Baileys, produced in association with Diageo and Hello Sunshine. And the seed of another project was also germinating.
Depending on perspective, timing can be a cruel mistress or a gift in hiding. The era of global shutdowns proved to be a needed incubation period for the company, the planet and also a special project. When Incubate resurfaced, it was with an even greater sense of purpose and clarity, for now the world itself had been altered, with the whisper of change growing louder every day.
It was time for The Art of Change to make its debut — a docuseries exploring the idea that art, through its countless expressions, has the innate capacity to effect meaningful change. The Art of Change is expected to go into production in 2023.
Joey is a native Angeleno who sees beauty and power in the art of storytelling. In his spare time, he can be found hiking barefoot or balancing on a slackline between two trees. You see the Force runs strong with Horvitz as he strives to be the best version of himself, infusing passion and purpose into his creative pursuits, one step at a time.