Esteban Bravo and Beth David are the creators of “In A Heartbeat”, a gay animated short film that has been making waves before even being released. It features a closeted boy who risks being outed when his heart jumps out of his chest to chase down the love of his life. It’s tooth-rottingly sweet and bound to be a global success. Take a look:
I contacted them recently in hopes that they would answer some questions, and they were kind enough to respond.
Thanks again for doing this, the film has garnered so much attention before even being released! Did you expect it to gain this kind of attention and recognition when you started making it?
EB & BD: No problem, we’re happy and excited to answer your questions! We didn’t expect this kind of attention, at least not before releasing the film! However, we did get a glimpse at how the film was going to do after our kickstarter garnered much unprecedented attention.
What was the process of beginning such a demanding project like this and how did you cope with it being just the two of you?
EB & BD: We started on this project on our preproduction class for our thesis films at Ringling College of Art and Design. On the first day we have to pitch four ideas for our thesis and from the very beginning we knew that this was the story that we wanted to see through. Thankfully, the faculty greenlit the idea and so we started the process of fleshing out the story and the visuals for it. After having worked on that for a semester, we started production during the summer of that year. From there on out it was a matter of working day and night to bring this film to fruition, which took in total a year and a half. We honestly don’t know how we would have been able to make it our senior year had it not been for our love for this story and the characters. Some other things did help to cope however haha, like coffee breaks at 2am and watching shows from time like Parks and Rec.
What were your influences and where did this sweet story come from? Did your own personal experiences play into the story at all?
EB & BD: There were several films we watched as we were developing the film – some of them being LGBTQ+ films. Here’s a list with a few of them: The Way He Looks, The Imitation Game, High School Musical, Get Real, Hidden Away, School Ties, Blue is the Warmest Color, The Blue Neighborhood Trilogy, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A big influence on the appeal, charm, and feel for the film were The Peanuts Movie and Flipped.
We have to say that developing the film was therapeutic for us in some way. Though thankfully we were never in the position in which our identity was in absolute danger of being exposed to our crush or the entire school (like Sherwin is in the film), much of the story came from both of us having a heart-to-heart about how it was like to grow up being gay (pun intended).
Did you purposefully make the characters younger to appeal to a certain audience? Animated films – and blockbusters alike – generally don’t feature LGBTQ+ main characters, what are your thoughts on that?
EB & BD: The main reason why the characters are that age (13/14) is because it’s at that age when you start to notice that something is different and begin a process of self-acceptance. After having decided that, we hoped that our film would reach younger audiences going through this stage and hopefully let them know that “it’s okay”. We definitely think that there is a lack of LGBTQ+ characters in films and the amount of response this film has gotten, without it being out yet, hopefully shows media executives that people are ready and hungry for more content like this.
You changed Jonathan’s ethnicity and as a Portuguese gay man, representation is so important. Do you feel the same about portrayals in media and was this kept in mind while producing the film?
EB & BD: Yes, the more we worked on the film the more we realized how important representation is, so we thought making Jonathan Latino would be perfect. It also added an extra personal touch to the film since Esteban was born and raised in Mexico. We’re excited that so many people are positively responding to this and it just shows how people want to see themselves represented more in media.
What are your plans for the future? I know the film isn’t out yet but you’ve been submitting it to film festivals, so what can we expect as an audience and as fans of your work?
EB & BD: Now that we’ve just graduated, we’re breaking into the industry and starting jobs at different studios. We’ll be jumping on projects for television and feature film that we’re both really excited about. In a Heartbeat for now will live as our student short, but we’ve definitely talked about the possibility of making it into something bigger. It’d be a dream of ours to work together on a project like this again in the future.
And finally, what do you hope to continue to do and what impact do you hope this film has on the future of animation and as a whole? What do you hope audiences take from it?
EB & BD: The responses we’ve gotten prove to us that this is something that a lot of people really want to see, and we hope that means studios and production companies will open up more to projects with LGBTQ themes. We never really expected our film make the impact that it already has, but we hope that audiences can watch it and feel more accepting of themselves or a loved one going through a similar experience. If it helps one person feel a little better about who they are, then we’ll have done our job.
Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my initial reaching out. This film means so much to so many people – including me. Often times LGBTQ+ characters are sexualised and for straight people to see this change to show a more innocent side of gay romance is a big step in normalising homosexuality.