The knowledge of human rights is not an integral part of secondary school curriculum; that is what the participants of the LAWrider Erasmus+ international youth initiative wanted to change. Groups of young people from Hungary, Romania and Croatia used filming techniques to address the issue of human rights and produced ten short movies and the related lesson plan. They can be used in a secondary school environment to talk about the issue in a playful, and still informative manner. We asked Dóra Csóti-Gyapjas and Gábor Balla coordinators about the quality award winning project.

LAWrider – Human Rights as Interpreted by Youths

Institution: Creative Elephant Studio Kft.
Project title: LAWrider
Coordinator: Dóra Csóti-Gyapjas, Gábor Balla

The international partnership also involved two Hungarian organisations. How was this partnership established and what gave you the basic idea?

Gábor Balla (G.): Creative Elephant Studio Kft. was established in 2014, and I’m one of the founders. The other project coordinator, Dóra and I had known each other for a long time; we had been involved in several Erasmus+ youth partnerships together. In 2014, at a ten-day international youth exchange programme in England we conducted a video workshop, and that was where I started to learn about these projects, even though I had formerly held video workshops for young people. This time, besides my coordinator’s role, I also acted as a filming mentor, as well as a trainer.

Dóra Csóti-Gyapjas (D.): I work as a youth coordinator in the office of D2 Youth Development and Media Center in Szeged; many young people visit us there after school to share their daily problems and things they're interested in. During such conversations, secondary school students complained that human rights were not part of the curriculum at all, so we started to brainstorm together about a project which could address the issue using non-formal methods and in the language of secondary school students. Gábor and I were coordinating the project, and I also acted as a coach and a trainer. Besides, I was also responsible for the documentation related to the application.

How did you help the young people implement the project successfully?

D.: The young people were given a mentor to support their professional work all along; he taught them technical details about film-making and prepared them for acting in front of a camera. Apart from these, all the ideas came from these young people, and they brought with themselves the creativity and intrinsic motivation which also shows on the screen.

How did the young people share the various jobs related to making the short films?

G.: At the first international partners’ meeting they collectively chose the ten human rights out of thirty which they finally used to make a short film and a lesson plan. Out of them, the Croatian, the Romanian Hungarian and the Hungarian groups adapted three human rights each, and worked on another one together at the last partners’ meeting in Hollókő.

D.: When choosing the human rights, as well as when making the short movies, we left some open space for joint creativity, and we didn’t decide who to act in or who to shoot a certain movie. Everybody was equally interested in the topic, so the team work never ended up in arguments.

Even with no arguments, was there any hardship that presented a challenge?

G.: The international partners’ meeting in Hollókő was quite a big job. There we shot the last ten-minute film with the involvement of all the partners in one weekend, which meant the coordination of 30-40 people. Also, we needed to ensure some time and space for getting to know each other and team building. That was quite a great challenge. In fact, this meeting was held beyond what we had undertaken, as we had originally planned only two meetings, but, eventually, the funding we received allowed us to organise four.

Why did you organise more meetings than what you had undertaken in your application?

D.: When launching the project, the colleagues of the national agency called our attention to the fact that it would be worth organising at least one more meeting. Later it became clear, indeed, that personal arrangements with the partners are indispensable. It’s a much easier way to discuss ideas and problems related to the project. The online world is useful, but very few things can be effectively transferred in writing, which may lead to misunderstandings. Another important aspect was the young people’s motivation, since the more opportunities they have for active, personal meetings, the more enthusiastic and open they are to each other, too.

How did the young people relate to their participation in the project? Did they keep up the initial enthusiasm all along?

D.: They were absolutely conscious about the entire project, since what they’d wanted to know from the very beginning was what human rights they had. They were aware that while making the short films they would also learn, even if in a playful manner. This intrinsic motivation did not only concern learning about their rights, but they also wanted to acquire the knowledge needed to make the short films.

G.: This refers to the work both in front of and behind the camera, because we didn’t only hold theatrical, but also filming workshops. Thus they could try themselves in both fields; we didn’t set rules like you can't be a cameraman of a film if you were an actor in another one; there was free passing between the roles.

How did secondary school teachers receive the lesson plans?

D.: We got a lot of positive feedback and support from the local secondary school teachers whose students were involved in the project. Since then, we’ve received lots of requests to hold human rights workshops during discussion classes with the form master, but we’ve also seen examples of teachers themselves holding human rights classes using our lesson plans. In fact, this opportunity is open to anyone, and the lesson plans and short films are also available on our website.

How does the project live on among the young people involved?

G.: Today you may as well shoot a film with a smartphone. Grab you phone, shoot and cut! I think we managed to transfer such extensive theoretical, aesthetic and technical knowledge that if they have a good idea they can properly and independently elaborate it and record it even with a phone.

D.: It’s important that they should dare start to realise their ideas and find the contacts and opportunities which can bring them closer to their goals. Because when you have a goal there’s no impossible.

Luca Pável
Tempus Public Foundation / Erasmus+ Youth team

The awards and screenings of the short films:
Kecskemét Fringe (2017)
24. National Student Film Festival – special award
1st Seven Hills Film Festival – Children’s category – Short film category – 3rd place


Project values: A group of young people from each of the three partner countries assumed an active role in the project, producing messages which were different, but still used the common, creative language of youth. The implementation of the idea was initiated by the young people, but the partnership included business and non-governmental organisations, as well as educational institutions. The short films presenting human rights and the related lesson plans also contribute to the renewal of secondary school education.

Last modified: 16-04-2019