Grasshorse Studios constructed this puppet soundstage for an upcoming project. Photo by Sam McIntosh.

What looks like a modest business front in downtown Winfield holds a type of work that you would rather expect to see in Hollywood.

Grasshorse, a character animation studio, traces its origins to Los Angeles, but moved to Winfield a decade ago by Iowa natives and siblings, Steve Jennings and Kathy Buxton. Jennings shares how one screenwriter’s advice motivated him to move back to Iowa, “Get out of Los Angeles, it’s like Washington, D.C. It’s this beautiful city with all these incredible monuments that are larger than life, but all those monuments aren’t exactly comfortable. You can’t just go to the Washington Monument and sit there and create something great. You can go and have that experience, but ultimately you have to go home into a comfortable place to create your work.”

Steve Jennings looks at some animation designs at Grasshorse Studios in Winfield. Photo by Sam McIntosh.

Grasshorse employs artists and animators from southeast Iowa, as Jennings equated the drive from someplace like Iowa City to Winfield is the same length as the average drive across Los Angeles. Grasshorse has created mobile apps, movie teaser trailers, PSA’s, and last year they animated their first music video for the Fitz & the Tantrums song “Roll Up.” Jennings explains the video, “We really wanted to create something that was going to tie into why people weren’t necessarily connecting with each other currently as much as they have in the past. Even though we have all these tools at our disposal to be able to connect with each other it doesn’t happen as much. Part of it is just entirely economic, you know you have a mobile phone that allows more connection but maybe not as deep a connection.”

“Roll Up” will be featured in IPTV’s second season of “The Film Lounge” in February. This is the second year for Grasshorse to be featured. Buxton and Jennings say that though they are based in a rural Iowa town, they don’t want to be just a “best kept secret”. They are currently developing “Puppet Justice”, an animated puppet adult humor program, which they expect to release on a streaming service or YouTube.