Nerf or Nothing

Nerf or Nothing: The battle of the media societies at the ATVAs

6 mins read

Set in the creative battleground known as Stirling Union’s media office, Cameron Johnstone’s latest short film Nerf or Nothing pits two media societies against each other in a war for resources.

The film is Johnstone’s entry for AirTV’s annual awards (ATVAs) which celebrates the best that Stirling’s filmmaking society has to offer. The awards are taking place May 9 at Macrobert Arts Centre and tickets are available here.

In a conversation with Brig, Johnstone explained that Nerf or Nothing’s premise is a homage to the iconic paintball episode from NBC hit show community.

“Mine is a parody of the community episode of the paintball wars. If you’ve seen the show, it’s about students who annually fight in a community college in a paintball battle. I did a similar thing with AirTV and Brig people. It is where they all compete for new equipment through the means of a Nerf war.”

It’s clear that Johnstone relishes the learning experience he gains from filmmaking. He told Brig that each new project gives him the chance to put his skills to the test:

“It’s my first time learning more advanced editing software like DaVinci. So, I had to get taught whilst I was going so a lot of it was experimenting. But I was really happy with it.”

This is not Johnstone’s first time at the ATVAs, though he admitted that he would rather forget his first experience.

He said: “Well, my first film, I didn’t know how to use a camera. It was shot on an iPhone, the audio quality was horrible and the editing was done in iMovie. So, it was very, very basic. I also, funnily enough misunderstood the rules.”

Johnstone explained how at the last minute he realised that films had to be 15 minutes long. This led to a scramble to save the film. Johnstone continued:

“I ended up slowing down the whole film in post-production because that was the only thing I could think to do. It turned into a complete mess and luckily enough I didn’t go to the ATVAs last year because I was away. So, I didn’t have to sit through the embarrassment of that. But this year, I’ve learned how to use a camera and audio equipment and editing so I feel much more confident with all of that.”

Nerf of Nothing behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes of Nerf or Nothing with director Cameron Johnstone (right) and Star Nathan McQuaid (Left). Image Credit: Cameron Johnstone.

It’s clear that Johnstone isn’t one to let a small setback get in his way. Throughout the conversation, the young director seemed excited about the future:

“I always want to adventure into new genres and this year I decided to do comedy-action. Next year I’m planning on going for a more serious drama.”

When talking about the awards night itself, Johnstone explained that it is more than just an opportunity to showcase student talent. It also allows young filmmakers to hone their craft and share knowledge:

“There are awards to be won [at the ATVAs] but it’s definitely not a competition. it’s very much encouraging independent filmmakers to give it a go. There are a lot more experienced people that have been doing this for a while and what tends to happen is that the fourth fears help a lot, since they have the most experience with it.”

Johnstone continued by shouting out fellow directors Ben and Nathan McQuaid, whose new stop-motion film, The Ballad of the Indispensable Walnut Man, premieres at the ATVAs on Tuesday. Johnstone explained that they were key collaborators in the making of his film:

“Two up-and-coming filmmakers in the society are the McQuaids, Ben and Nathan. They’ve created amazing short films that have gone on to national levels, and they were a really big help for my film, helping me brainstorm ideas, act, and helping with practical effects. So, it’s definitely a collaboration between other filmmakers to help improve. Me personally, I did voice acting in their film, so the help is very much mutual.”

Before saying goodbye, Johnstone was asked why people should attend the ATVAs. His answer was simple—support independent film:

“It’s a really good way to promote student films. If you’re interested in any sort of film, you should definitely engage in up-and-coming filmmakers, we have lots of people that study film in our society that go just because they’re passionate about film. The society is so big that you can’t really narrow it down to just one type of person. It’s similar to Brig, in that there’s a lot of different interests. You have people interested in sports, people interested in dramas, documentaries, there’s even like musical people. So, it’s a very wide variety of people that are in that society.”

The ATVAs are on May 9, at 7pm.

For more information on all the ATVA entries visit AirTVs Instagram.

Featured Image Credit: Cameron Johnstone

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Film and Tv Editor at Brig Newspaper. Currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Stirling

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