Rural Rock & Roll


Jensen Rufe is an editor/documentary filmmaker/musician.

He spent his early years in the Midwest - absorbing the odd sense of humor that seems to emanate from his family's home state, Indiana. The Rufes moved to San Diego in 1982.

In college, Rufe took an interest in the media and received a B.A. in Mass Communications from UCLA in 1995 (Cum Laude). He continued to follow this interest in Media Arts up to Humboldt State University, where he delved deeper into his love of documentary filmmaking. Two of his thesis projects "In Search of the Famous Hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich" and "The Ugliest Fountain in the World (Without a Doubt)" were successful at film festivals--winning several 'Best of Fest' awards and eventually airing on PBS.

Upon receiving an M.A. in Film Production from HSU (Magna Cum Laude), Rufe was offered the position of Humboldt County Film Commissioner, where he worked for three years providing assistance to producers of on-location television and film productions, including Castle Rock, 20th Century Fox, Disney, IMAX and Warner Brothers. It was during his stint as Commissioner that Rufe completed his third documentary, "Orick, CA, U.S.A.," a feature-length made with longtime collaborator Steve Love.

In 2001, Rufe relocated to Los Angeles with his high school sweetheart Andrea (and wife since 2003) to focus on professional creative work within the television industry. He started as an editor's assistant at Bunim-Murray Productions--the company widely proclaimed as the originators of "reality" TV--and using his already-developed non-fiction storytelling voice, rapidly worked his way up to a position of Director and Editor, not just at Bunim-Murray, but also freelancing for other MTV, USA, Discovery and FOX network shows, including "Project Runway," "Bad Girls Club," "The Real World," "Making the Band," etc.

Over the past decade, Rufe has continued to independently produce documentaries and assorted music projects. "The Fuse" (2002, 24-minutes) was a self-made rock and roll documentary about a local three-piece Hispanic mod punk band, which must be seen and heard to believe. For many reasons, just as many people hate the Fuse as love them, but both sides of the aisle seem to get a kick out of this documentary. "Steve and Jensen's Universe" (2004)--a half-hour television pilot Produced and Directed by Rufe--is a sort of non-fiction variety show which revisits his earlier breaded tenderloin and Orick themes--in significantly different ways --and also tosses in a new gem: a five-minute expose into the late 1960s rock rumor that Paul McCartney had died ("Paul is Dead").

For most of his life, Rufe has been an avid musician and follower of rock and roll, having written and recorded songs for 20+ years and played in dozens of bands--enduring countless band fights, tours and nasty breakups. Chronologically, Rufe's bands have consisted of Three Boxed In (his first garage band), The Package (a singer-songwriter duo), Laxton's Superb (psychedelic 60s harmony-rock), Puddletown Tom (a loud, experimental electric and part-time acoustic band), Mexico (a 4-track duo with Bobby Lee), Tigerbomb (a Guided by Voices tribute band), The Sin Men (his most successful band), Hasslehoff (hard rock polka), The Foster Kids (basically a fusion of the Sin Men and Tigerbomb), Loaded (a Velvet Underground coverband), The Watermelon Guns (a Flaming Lips tribute band), The Steve and Jensen Rufe Quartet (another experimental 4-track project), The Beatles (a Beatles coverband) and The Natural Lights (his latest melodic garage rock effort here in L.A.). In late 2004, Rufe produced a limited edition vinyl-only L.P. of his old band, The Sin Men, featuring snippets of recordings from through the years re-edited, re-recorded and spliced together into a successful hi-fidelity 2nd album for the band.

While continuing to edit professionally, it is Rufe's passion for rock and roll and a backlog of decades of hands-on experience with the subject (combined with his love of documentaries) that brought him to his 2006 venture: a non-fiction music TV pilot called "Rural Rock and Roll" (see Rural Rock & Roll). "Rural Rock" is intended as a pilot for a travelogue series that would move from region to region, meeting and celebrating the cultures of small-town music scenes from the bottom up--the grass roots. The pilot episode--filmed in Humboldt County in June of ’05 and completed in ’06--screened all over the globe, making the rounds and winning awards in the U.S. and international film festival circuit as a stand-alone documentary piece (for a DVD, contact Rufe directly.)

Next on Rufe’s agenda, producing a TV project entitled "Best Band You've Never Heard" and a double-length solo album!

- Written by Johnny Render
  Los Angeles
  September 2011