A crowd-funded animated short film about gay love, made in Florida, goes viral

Hang onto your heartstrings, because they’re about to get tugged.

"" — the four-minute passion project from computer animation students Esteban Bravo and Beth David — had its cyberspace debut Monday. And the Internet is crushing. Hard. 

The animated short film, which has already amassed 6.4 million views (and counting) on YouTube alone, shares the sweet story of love at first sight. The narrative centers on Sherwin, a closeted young boy who, per the film’s plot description, "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 short chronicles the frenzied emotional roller coaster that erupts in the aftermath of his runaway heart.

In an interview with , Bravo and David cited their own experiences as the film’s primary inspiration, adding that "In a Heartbeat" is the kind of film they wished they had seen growing up. 

“The original pitch was a story between a boy and a girl,” David said. “But it wasn’t until we made it about a same-gender crush that the idea really started to take form and resonate with Esteban and I. We realized that we had something that could potentially be really special to us.”

The film has resonated with other people too. Teaming up to create a joint senior thesis in November at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Bravo and David launched a  that aimed to raise $3,000 for the film’s production. They surpassed their fundraising goal by a long shot, reeling in more than $14,000.

Esteban Bravo and Beth David created "In a Heartbeat" for their senior thesis project. (Jeremy Edelblut)

“With [‘In a Heartbeat’], we wanted to challenge the preconceived notion that LGBTQ content is not appropriate or suitable for younger audiences,” Bravo told NBC News. “It’s an innocent and lighthearted story about a boy and his crush that we hope will resonate with younger people regardless of their background.”

“We tried to tell this story from a genuine place,” David added, “and be as emotionally honest as we could about how especially layered this experience is for LGBTQ kids.”

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