Childhood & Early Life
James Duncan Rolfe was born on July 10, 1980, in Penns Grove, New Jersey, US, to the family of Scott and Marlene Rolfe. He has a younger sister Gina.
As a child he developed a knack of storytelling taking pictures with his camera and taping them on paper with a narrative about the story of the picture.
He once received an audio recorder as Christmas gift from his parents which later upgraded to a video camera thus leading him step by step to his passion for filmmaking.
He was an ardent collector of Nintendo Power magazines and was quite motivated by the American animated television series ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and video games like ‘Super Mario Bros.’, ‘The Legend of Zelda’, and ‘Contra’ that inspired him to create his own adventure stories.
He purchased a Panasonic AG-DVX100 camcorder while in his senior year of college and would awestruck his peers with videos he shot with it. He would also illustrate comic books and keep updating them every month.
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In 1989, he began filming movies that saw him using Mario Paint in some of his initial efforts. He went on to continue such hobby in the early 1990s as well and then attended university to take up hand-drawn animation lessons.
According to Rolfe, his independent video and film production company ‘The Cinemasssacre Productions’ or ‘Cinemassacre Productions LLC’ commenced in 1989. The website was however developed in 2000. There are two official YouTube channels of the company as well namely ‘Cinemassacre Plays’ and ‘Cinemassacre’.
He used his backyard to shoot the horror film ‘A Night of Total Terror’ in May 1996 that he considered "the turning point of my life". Thereafter he developed several other films till the turn of the 1990s.
In 2001 he made films like ‘Cinemaphobia’, two versions of which were made, a 10 minute one and a 15 minute one; the silent movie ‘Kung Fu Werewolf from Outer Space’ including voice only for narration; and ‘Stoney’, a spoof of the film Rocky (1976).
The following year he made a documentary short titled ‘ROLFE: A No-Budget Dream’ where he played himself and essayed the role of a Narrator in the short ‘The Night Prowler’.
His 2003 film ‘Curse of the Cat Lover's Grave’ depicted three genres of horror in its three sections.
He wrote, directed, edited, produced as also played an un-credited role of Narrator in film/series pilot ‘Jersey Odysseys: Legend of the Blue Hole’ (2004). He used his parent’s garage to shoot it where he used to conduct annual "haunted house" Halloween attraction through high school. Several antiques and props used in the film were re-used in his later films as well.
He would casually create his earliest videos comprising the Nerd character to simply enjoy with friends. The basic concept of the character came to him while attending the University of the Arts of Philadelphia from 1999 to 2004.
Such hobby of Rolfe turned into his real breakthrough when he filmed a short review of the Nintendo game ‘Castlevania II: Simon's Quest’ under the title of ‘Bad NES Games’ in May 2004. He and his friend-cum-collaborator Mike Matei published those ‘Angry Nintendo Nerd’ videos on Cinemassacre.com that year.
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From 2004 to 2007 he took part in the 48 Hour Film Project and became the Audience Award Winner in 2007 for making ‘Spaghetti Western’. The films ‘Death Suit’ (2004), ‘Death Seen’ (2005) and ‘Death Secret’ (2006) that form a trilogy were also part of the contest.
He developed a graveyard in his parent’s garage to shoot the horror-comedy flick ‘The Deader, The Better’ that released through ‘Cinemassacre Productions’ on December 19, 2005. He essayed the role of Zombie in the film that paid tribute to yesteryear horror flick ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968).
After being insisted by Matei, Rolfe uploaded his Nerd videos on April 6, 2006 on the YouTube channel ‘JamesNintendoNerd’ (presently called ‘Cinemassacre’). His character garnered immense mainstream popularity on September 12 that year after his review of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ burgeoned on YouTube.
His Nerd videos eventually evolved into popular comedy retrogaming web series with the original character’s name changed from ‘The Angry Nintendo Nerd’ to ‘The Angry Video Game Nerd’ to avoid trademark issues with Nintendo as he also commenced as game reviewer of other consoles like ‘Atari 2600’ and ‘Sega Genesis’.
He portrays the title character of ‘The Nerd’ in the series that became a program on ‘GameTrailers’ and ‘ScrewAttack’ in 2007. The character gained such popularity over time that it featured in many other media like films and video games.
During 2008-09 Rolfe’s character upped its fame through a fake feud with web comedian Doug Walker’s character Nostalgia Critic, from the American review comedy web series bearing same title.
He along with Kevin Finn wrote and directed the American independent science fiction adventure comedy flick ‘Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie’ that premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on July 21, 2014.
The budget of the ‘Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie’ that was based on the AVGN web series amounted to over US$325,500 and was met totally out of crowd funding. Rolfe played the title role of the Nerd in the film that saw an online release on September 2, 2014 through video-on-demand.
Some of the other films featuring him included ‘His Name Was Jason’ (2009), ‘Kickassia’ (2010), ‘To Boldly Flee’ (2012) and ‘Plan 9’ (2015).
Over the years he has featured in many TV series such as Cinemassacre's Monster Madnesss (2007-2016), ‘Board James’ (2009–2013, 2015), ‘OverAnalyzers’ (2011–2012) and ‘James & Mike Mondays’ (2012-present).