James Rolfe’s book A Movie Making Nerd is an interesting look into his life and the journey that led him to where he is now. There are many stories in this book. A good number of them have been told in other places. I don’t think this was bad, as I’ve only been following him since 2015 and hadn’t heard some of them before.
An Interesting Story to Tell
James has had an exciting life. He tells the reader about his struggles growing up and how he used making movies as an escape or creative outlet. It is a fascinating hobby, and it was hard for some people to understand back then. He does mention this a few times in the book.
When he talks about making movies, it feels like it is something that he truly loves to do. He is always mentioning how he would try new things and work to improve on the previous one. I particularly liked how he would revisit an idea to try and improve on what he had done before. It is something that I’ve read in other autobiographies.
Experimenting with different shots, ideas, and special effects are brought up. James seems to have wanted to make things look as realistic as possible. Even when he was a kid and things were going to look crude. Reading about the different workarounds he came up with and the things he worried about back then was fascinating.
He mentions being shy and socially awkward. I thought this was about him feeling uncomfortable around people he didn’t know, like he wasn’t comfortable opening up about what he liked when he was a kid. However, he made friends and convinced them to help him with his movies. This is just my reading of it.
I want to mention that this is James’s perspective on this. When he brings up his special education school, some things made sense. He might not know the whole story, and there could be some holes in his memory. This isn’t a bad thing; I want to mention that we aren’t getting the whole story which is common in books like this.
I did like this part quite a bit. It felt like two stories about how he struggled to adjust to a more structured environment like school and trying to create a type of structure in making movies. He brings up the rules at his school and how the other kids would break them, and then brings up how he would storyboard his films and worry about their continuity.
Repetitive Stories or Rough Drafts?
When I was reading this, I kept thinking back to the videos James has made over the years. Not the AVGN videos, but the vlogs he makes now and then. There were several stories in the book that I heard in those vlogs.
At first, I thought this was a negative. However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought of them as brainstorming and rough drafts for the book. Like he was trying to remember all the details and wanted to talk it out in a way that made sense.
It made me think that there might be holes in the stories. It can be hard to remember what you did as a child, how things happened, or guess what people think. James does address stuff in the book as best he can. Some things are just lost, however.
After reading this, I thought about going and looking for some of those stories. However, that would only give me part of the story. You’re always going to have someone’s bias put into it.
I do wish there had been more put into the book. Once we get to the end of the AVGN movie, the book is almost over. I felt there was more to say, but this is James’s book. He can tell us as much or as little as he wants.
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
The movie takes up a good part of the book. It was the biggest project that James had done, and it seemed like he wanted to get some things off his chest. A lot was happening in his life at the time of making the movie.
This is a story that I didn’t know about before reading this book. I’ve heard others talk about it occasionally but never thought too much about it myself. I knew he made a movie I watched several years ago, thought it was okay, and then forgot about it.
He talks about money quite a bit in this section. It seems to be about the budget, how it was raised, what things cost, and one of the people that let him down. For me, this part raised some questions. Mostly, it was about where things were shot and how ambitious the script was.
From what I gathered, James had always wanted to do the movie. Many of his friends helped him out with it. He had a good idea of what he wanted to do, but the budget they were working with didn’t match his vision. Instead, he tried to figure out ways to work about things.
Thinking back to some things James has said over the years, I understand why he made it the way he did. It was inspired by B-Movies and the low-budget movies that James likes. With this in mind, does it change my opinion of the finished product? Not really. I thought it was fine when I watched it back in 2017, and I’m still not interested in watching it again.
I did get the impression that James liked making the movie. He talks about the stress, the pressure to deliver, and his worrying about the little things, but he still wants to make movies. If he made a movie that wasn’t about the AVGN character, I’d watch it.
After the Movie
Other stressful things were going on while the movie was wrapping up. James talks about the birth of his children and some health issues his wife and his first child had. He goes into some detail about them and how they impacted his life.
I think he enjoys being a father quite a bit. He still works on short films and has written a script for a horror film. Both were also in videos he released before this book was published.
Covid is brought up as well. He managed to release AVGN videos as well as some other projects. Two things that I wish he had gotten into were the podcast and the weekly movie review videos that he was doing.
While I wasn’t a fan of his podcast, I did like the review show. Both seemed to stop with little explanation. I get that having a group of people get together during lockdown had its challenges. That is just the fan in me talking. I would like to see the reviews come back.
I liked this book. It isn’t going to make it on a best biographies list, but it was interesting to read more about James. It didn’t have everything that I wanted to know, but none of these books ever had everything.
While reading this, I did learn a few things about making a movie. There were some things that I hadn’t thought about, and hearing James talk about them was interesting. I also enjoyed his perspective on dealing with expectations.
If you’re a fan of AVGN, you might like this book. It is an excellent look at where James came from to where he is now.