We never expected this to become a trend, but David Steward II is now the third son of a billionaire to launch his own animation studio, following in the footsteps of Travis Knight’s Laika and David Ellison’s Skydance Animation.
Steward, whose father is a tech entrepreneur and majority owner of World Wide Technologies, is doing things differently by setting up Lion Forge in St. Louis, Missouri. While a few significant Midwest studios have produced entertainment content for Hollywood in the past, notably Chicago’s Startoons and Columbus, Ohio’s Character Builders, the region has not traditionally been known as an animation production hub and it could prove challenging to draw top-tier industry talent (i.e. LA artists) to the region.
Steward, however, believes that setting up in the Midwest holds some advantages over animation production on the coasts. “St. Louis is the perfect place from a creative standpoint,” Steward recently told Forbes. “You can find yourself in a bubble in LA or New York. If you want to be in touch with what’s going on in the country, the Midwest is the litmus test of what’s popular in broader sense.”