Boy-meets-boy animated short film ‘In a Heartbeat’ goes viral

Screen-grab from the short film

It’s not the typical animated short film that we usually see, but In a Heartbeat is proving that being different works. The four-minute flick is about two young, schoolboys who fall in love with each other—a plot that despite the popularity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) characters in numerous TV shows and movies remains rare in animated features.

In a Heartbeat was uploaded on YouTube on July 31 and has since generated over 14.7 million views (as of presstime, August 4) on the video-sharing site alone. The surprising online reception has also turned its creators—Esteban Bravo, 24 and Beth David, 21—into instant celebrities.

In a recent interview with NBC News, the two computer animation majors admitted that the original concept for their passion project was a typical boy-meets-girl plot. “It was not until Esteban and I decided to switch it to a same-sex crush that the film started to feel like a personal story,” said David. “It was the kind of story that we wish we had seen as kids,” she added.

The creators of In a Heartbeat hope this short film would help further push acceptance of same-sex plots in animated films and features for young people.

“We wanted to challenge the preconceived notion that LGBTQ content is not appropriate or suitable for younger audiences,” said Bravo. “It is an innocent and lighthearted story about a boy and his crush that we hope will resonate with younger people regardless of their background.”

Initial success of In a Heartbeat came in November when they commenced a Kickstarter campaign to raise $3,000 (P150,000) to fund the short film’s production. The turnout exceeded expectations and easily generated over $14,000 (P700,000), more than four times the target amount.

Although Pixar and other major animated film outfits are yet to feature gay characters in a movie, the recent Beauty and the Beast revival showed signs of progress after a talked about scene in the flick showed LeFou (an antagonist in the film) sharing a dance with another guy for a few seconds.

Watch In a Heartbeat here: