In a Heartbeat: An Animated Heartwarmer

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In a Heartbeat, an animated short about a crush between two middle school boys, will make your heart flutter. Photo Credit: Cultura Inquieta

In a Heartbeat, a short animated film about a crush between two middle school boys, is four minutes and five seconds of audio-visual delight, complete with adorable animation and relatable representation. The film was created for a senior thesis by Beth David and Esteban Bravo, who recently graduated from Ringling College.
In a Heartbeat tells the story of a closeted boy, Sherman, who tries to keep his heart from outing him at school as it chases after his crush, Jonathon. A greater appreciation for all of the thought put into the film can be found by looking at the details, such as the contrast between light and dark in the animation or Jonathon reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The music complements the tone of the animation style remarkably well, as the high melody that continues throughout the piece matches the beat of Sherman’s heart. The film is made stronger from its lack of dialogue, as the emotions and relationship of these two characters are highlighted simply through the sharp animated movements and accompanying music.
The film gained a following about seven months before its release when David and Bravo started a Kickstarter campaign asking for $3,000 to hire a composer and sound designer for the film. Within one month (from November 15, 2016-December 15, 2016), they raised $14,191. On July 31st, they posted their end product to YouTube, complete with adorable animation and a gorgeous score, composed by Arturo Cardelús, to go with it. When The New York Times reported on the short film four days later, it had already surpassed 14 million views.
Part of the reason this film gained so much attention, especially from the LGBTQ+ community, is because it gives quality representation for young people within the community. It’s not that there isn’t any media targeted at young adults, middle schoolers, or children that also has LGBTQ+ representation. Some animated shows, like Steven Universe, and books, like much of Rick Riordan’s recent work, have wonderful representation. However, it’s certainly not the norm, and it can be difficult to find media with any LGBTQ+ representation, let alone quality representation. In a Heartbeat provides that representation and adds to it the universal feeling of having a first crush.
Additionally, the short film normalizes the idea of kids being gay. Straight tendencies are often seen as cute and adorable in kids— think about the idea of kindergarten boyfriends and girlfriends or parents joking about how their two month old boy is going to be a womanizer. While the general attitude towards homosexuality has progressed in the past few years, there are plenty of people who still believe gay relationships are an unacceptable conversation topic for children, as well as refusing to allow them to question their own sexual orientations. This story is not revolutionary in and of itself, but it allows for young gay kids to see themselves in a form of media when the majority of the media made for them focuses on straight relationships.
In a Heartbeat, whether or not you care about the representation aspect, is a cute short film with a good score to match, and it is sure to make your own heart flutter. It’s just a sweet film about two boys with crushes. What could be more adorable than that?

Katie Monthie ’19 is a senior from Columbia, MD majoring in Psychology and English. In the future, Katie would like to pursue a career in psychology, ideally becoming teaching and researching how people connect to narratives. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to the same three podcasts, obsessing over Shakespeare, and writing until her hand aches.

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