WATCH: Short animation on same-sex first love hits the feels, goes viral
In just a day, this thesis short film hit 5 million views.
“In a Heartbeat” would’ve been any other portrayal of that awkward first-crush feeling—except this time, the protagonist hesitates to express his hopeless attraction for more than one reason.
It’s not just the fear of rejection that holds him back but also his object of affection: another boy.
For better or for worse, his heart did more than just wear itself on his sleeve.
According to NBC, animation students Beth David and Esteban Bravo from Ringling School of Art & Design in Florida initially conceptualized the film as a heterosexual love story.
The pair thought further about what they would have wanted to see as kids, and having a same-sex crush in a story resonated with them.
“We realized that we had something that could potentially be really special to us,” shared David.
They discussed what it was like growing up hiding their sexuality. “After having made the film, it just felt like we had written a letter to our past selves,” said Bravo.
The students took to Kickstarter in November 2016 where they raised over $14,000. Their concept clearly struck a chord as the film’s trailer reached 1.7 million views when it was released two months ago.
The universality of the love and the unique experiences of the LGBTQ community are what they wanted to express. “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.”
“We wanted to challenge the preconceived notion that LGBTQ content is not appropriate or suitable for younger audiences,” said Bravo.
A recently released study on Hollywood representation showed that LGBTQ characters were still largely invisible. For instance, in the past 10 years, only nine LGBTQ women had speaking roles out of the top 100 films.
But with their film exceeding expectations in terms of fund raising and popularity, they hope more stories like theirs can be told.
“The success of it just proves that there are audiences ready and hungry for this kind of content,” said Bravo.
Festivals are next for the movie, but there’s a chance the story can expand: Bravo and David are already conceptualizing what will happen next with the characters. Niña V. Guno /ra
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