A short animated film about a high school boy who develops a crush on another boy has gone viral, with almost 6 million views on Youtube. The 4 minute student film, called In a Heartbeat, is about a closeted boy who “runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.”
The project was started by art students Esteban Bravo and Beth David at the Ringling College of Art and Design, who raised over $14,000 of their $3,000 goal with their Kickstarter campaign.
“It’s a film that deals with a real and personal topic in a very sweet and lighthearted way,” they wrote on Kickstarter. The two effectively captured the fear that everyone has when they have a crush on someone: that the person you have a crush on doesn’t have one on you, which is how crushes usually work.
“The original pitch was a story between a boy and a girl,” David told NBC News.“But it wasn’t until we made it about a same-gender crush that the idea really started to take form and resonate.”
“We wanted to challenge the preconceived notion that LGBTQ content is not appropriate or suitable for younger audiences,” Bravo said. “It’s an innocent story about a boy and his crush that we hope will resonate with younger people regardless of their background.”
The story is about a boy who is outed by his own heart, which pops out of his chest to chase down another male classmate who the boy has a crush on. The film follows the boy as he tries to contain his heart, which doesn’t seem to be contained.
To develop the story, Bravo and David discussed their own experiences growing up closeted in school. “The success of it just proves that there are audiences ready and hungry for this kind of content,” they said.
“The LGBTQ themes are of course front and center, but ultimately it’s a story about a crush,” David said. “That’s something that almost everyone has experienced and can understand — which is kind of the point we were trying to make, that everyone, even gay kids, go through this.”
David and Bravo said the short was a “delicate balance between touching on emotions that can feel universal to everyone while still highlighting experiences that can be unique to LGBTQ adolescents developing their first crush. We tried to tell this story from a genuine place and be as honest as we could about how especially layered this experience is for LGBTQ kids.”