Two schoolboys try to hide their feelings for each other, mostly out of shame and confusion, and ultimately give in to what their hearts want. Sounds like a relatively normal plot by 2017 standards, no? Well, that’s not really an easy question to answer, even in this day and age.
Now graduates Beth Davis and Esteban Bravo, 21 and 24 years old respectively, had the unique idea of an LGBTQ+ related animated short for their senior thesis at Ringling College of Art and Design, which they started working on almost 2 years ago.
After releasing a trailer on YouTube of their first draft, supporters came a-flocking, as the magical duo’s Kickstarter campaign to complete the film eventually reached the $14,000 campaign.
Side note that, considering how well-made the end product is (and how viral it’s now gone online), that is a shockingly low budget in comparison to the Disney and Pixar shorts we see in theatres before every single one of their major motion pictures. But now, back to ‘In A Heartbeat’.
The 4-minute short, which oozes adorableness and relatability during every second of its duration, introduces us to the awkward Sherwin who seems to be running away from someone in particular.
Going in with a regular mindset, you’d probably expect that ‘someone’ to be a bully or strict teacher, given the school setting in the first frame. But no, it’s another boy of the same age, which the creators of the film named Jonathan.
Once a few seconds in, while Sherwin is hiding up in a tree and looks on with an endearing and loved up smile, then you know that this short is going to be very different from what we usually see. That in itself is both amazing and astonishing.
When have we ever seen any sort of animation, that isn’t blatantly made for adults, which captures the essence of a first crush and first love, but between two young people of the same gender? I’m sure the answer has to be a few days ago when everyone’s social media feeds were dominated by ‘In A Heartbeat’.
To date, in the space of 6 days since Davis and Bruno put it up on YouTube, the short movie has gathered over 17 million views. Not only has it already been nominated for countless awards, and is to be featured in numerous film festivals, but many (including movie critics and fanatics) are expecting ‘In A Heartbeat’ to at least get an Oscar nomination.
Bruno himself is gay, and partner in crime Davis decides not to label her sexuality. Not to say that if straight animators directed this short, this wouldn’t have been a great watch. But the fact that two people, who consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, took on this project, made it a shoe-in for being completely realistic, engulfing and heartfelt.
Yes, as you can probably tell, I absolutely loved watching ‘In A Heartbeat’, and I’m even happier that it’s generating so much hype and positivity. Even though I’m still in my early twenties, seeing something like this when I was still growing up (especially when YouTube and the concept of online videos had started out) would have definitely been comforting. Knowing that countless young people, of all ages and from all over the globe, are able to see this short film and relate to it touches my heart as much as the end scene of this short did.
Thank you Beth Davis and Esteban Bruno for making a tangible difference in the world doing something that you love.
Johann Agius is a fourth year law student who is currently the CEO of Insite after fulfilling the roles of Public Relations Officer and External Relations Officer in previous years. He joined Insite as a writer and photographer in 2013 and was elected in the executive for the first time a year later.