With the advent of online communities like MySpace and YouTube, directors, professional and amateur, have the potential to reach vast and constantly expanding audiences. If their videos resonate with viewers, distribution of the material may turn "viral", extending the network of viewers and creating a source of celebrity.
In the world of online videos, eye-catching, humourous and sometimes painful material exerts the strongest pull with viewers, as seen in the Badger Badger video, the Numa Song and the hordes of Jackass-style stunt videos.
Director James Rolfe is on the brink of such notoriety with his series entitled The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN), in which he lampoons video games from the late 80s and early 90s. Based at ScrewAttack and available through Cinemassacre, the AVGN has spread rapidly and has become a hit. I asked James about his films and the wave of popularity he is enjoying.
Danny Smooth: Hello, James! According to your webpage, you've recently got a surge of hits (over one million in October 2006) because of your series of videos entitled "The AVGN". Why do you think these videos have stuck a chord with the online community?
James Rolfe: Yeah, it's crazy. I got 3 million hits during December. When I first created the "Angry Nintendo Nerd" [now known as the AVGN] in 2004, it was just an in-joke for my friends. I had no idea that so many other people would find it so amusing. These are targeted at mature gamers, people my age who grew up in the time of NES & SNES, but I guess everyone's interested in the past. Somehow, it just spread like wildfire. I abandoned most of my other film projects for the meantime, to try and keep up with the nerd videos, since people keep wanting more of it.
DS: How does it feel to be that well received?
JR: I love that I'm entertaining so many people and that my comments on the games are being embraced by everyone, but being only one person it’s hard to keep up with it all. Twice a week, I have to sit down for many, many hours at a time to answer emails and MySpace messages. It’s crazy. I appreciate the fanbase, but I just hope everyone knows how busy I am.
DS: What are you working on now?
JR: I'm working on a 2-set DVD compilation of all the AVGN reviews. I also just moved and am seeking a new job with more flexible hours. That's why it's taking a while to get another video out. I'm really dependent, at the moment, of getting some money, because it’s very hard to make these videos on the side of a full -time job. So, that's my goal, to make the nerd my source of income so I can make more videos.
DS: What do you see in the future for the AVGN?
JR: As far as content goes, I have a lot planned. My list of games I wanna review is endless. What I hope the future holds is simply that I don't have to work a job, and get to keep making "Nerd" videos on a bigger scale and get back to some other film projects.
DS: Any Non-AVGN projects in the works for the near future?
JR: I have tons of films planned. Some short, some feature-length. All different. I have some goofball comedies I want to make, another zombie splatter flick and a pyschological horror film. I hope to get started on one of them within the next year.