News, Shorts

Student-Produced Short ‘In a Heartbeat’ Wins the Internet’s Heart

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In a Heartbeat character renders

When recent Ringling School of Art and Design graduates Esteban Bravo and Beth David published their animated short In a Heartbeat on YouTube two weeks ago, the four-minute film garnered over 12 million views in less than 72 hours (That’s less than three days!)

In a Heartbeat follows the story of schoolboy Sherwin, who secretly pines over his classmate, Jonathan. (The two characters are not named in the film itself, which is entirely silent aside from the emotional score composed by Arturo Cardelús.) One day, as Sherwin is watching his crush outside their school, his heart – an adorable, big-eyed character in and of itself – literally bursts out of his chest, and he has to stop it before his hidden feelings are revealed.

Bravo and David started the film as a their senior thesis at Ringling in January 2016. That fall, when they were midway through production, they launched a Kickstarter project with the goal of raising enough money to hire a professional composer and sound designer to provide the audio for their story. Their $3,000 goal was more than quadrupled by the over $14,000 the campaign actually brought in. Arturo Cardelús was brought on as the composer and Nick Ainsworth as sound designer, and the rest is history.

In a Heartbeat fills a void in LGBTQ representation, something that while increasing in live-action productions, is still all but absent in animation and in children’s programming. Bravo and David’s original concept featured a boy and a girl character, but the two filmmakers became more invested in the project when they decided to pursue a same-sex couple instead. As Bravo told The Guardian: “…when it’s put in the context of LGBT characters, there were so many more layers to explore, and we could infuse the story with our own backgrounds.”

Bravo acknowledged that big-name studios tend to stay away from LGBTQ representation since it’s still not universally accepted, but he also noted that “it’s really important for them to represent these people because not showing LGBT characters leads to a lot of internalized confusion as kids grow up.” By working in the short film format on their own terms, Bravo and David were able to tell a story arguably more representative than any animated production to date.

A less than 30-second teaser for In a Heartbeat was published roughly two months ago, and although it did start attracting considerable attention, Bravo and David had no idea their first film would go viral in less than three days.

David told the The Guardian, “I do think this kind of entertainment is wanted on a pretty broad scale,” and that she and Bravo hope their film is a small step on the path to LGBT inclusion from studios.

As of the writing of this article, In a Heartbeat has over 25 million views, with over a million likes, on YouTube. If you haven’t seen the film yet, check out the link below and make that viewer count one number higher, then tell us what you thought!

(via The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, and Kickstarter)

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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  • Phoenix Wright

    I love it! Its adorable and amazing

  • Sebastian

    I really appreciate this short film. It’s very powerful how these animators had so much heart to tell this story. A lot of people can relate to this. This really had me moved.

  • My girlfriend and I adored this film. I wish I’d seen things like this growing up, hopefully this is a sign that there could be more similar stuff. So important for all kids to see LGBTQ love stories be presented in a sweet way.

  • I LOVE THIS SHORT!! Its so cute and BEYOND adorable, it can relate to any kind of crush not just one gender, ahhh loving the buzz its getting online!! :DDD

  • This was a good short film. I hope all people, regardless of their view on the
    subject matter, can at least appreciate the fantastic animation, considering
    that this was just a student film.

  • ^-^ I’m glad that this short exists. Thanks for doing an article about it, Amber/Rotoscopers. I was hoping you would. 🙂

    • Amber Dvorak

      You’re very welcome! Glad people are enjoying this short film. 🙂

  • Renard N. Bansale

    It’s considerate for a story about young kids experiencing attraction to the same gender to exist, but we must be prudent to not assume that the kids will be like that forever, especially since they have yet to hit puberty.

    • Love who you want to love, when ever you want to.

      • Renard N. Bansale

        Just be sure that it’s to will the good of the other, not just acting under a flurry of emotions and hormones. The latter come and go in this life, but the former is everlasting since it serves truth.

        • Who is “the other”?

          • Renard N. Bansale

            Ever heard of the Good Samaritan story? 😉

          • Well yeah, not sure how it relates here.

          • Renard N. Bansale

            It’s another person, silly. 🙂

          • The Good Samaritan story is about helping people in their time of need..??
            Look, this isn’t going anywhere. You’re trying to mask your prejudices behind cryptic bible speak. It’s not working. Just say what you mean and be over with it.

          • Renard N. Bansale

            I reference that story because it’s prefaced by the question “Who is my neighbor?” (which is another way to refer to “the other”). And I did say what I meant originally. In the end, love is about the will and the truth, not just about the feelings and sensations.

  • Awesome. Story was fantastic and the design was amazing. Every shot and pose was beautifully constructed. Well done.

  • Juuchan17

    As someone who loves shorts that allows the animation, music and expressions tell the story rather than having dialogue all the time, this short makes me have more faith in the up-and-coming animators and artists that can show that animation isn’t just for kids – it’s for everyone, and it’s not hard to find something that you can relate to in the film.

    It’s a simple story about love and following your heart that could be about any sort of coupling besides gender or orientation – ethnicity, race, social class, age gaps, etc. – but it’s definiely something that will make you smile at the end and probably make you go “aww” or shed a tear as it reaches its conclusion.

    I don’t see it as something positive just for the LGBTQ+ community just because it shows two young boys at the start of a relstionship. It’s a positive piece that animation lovers of all ages and anyone willing to have an open mind about same-sex relationships should also be proud to know exists in the world.