5 days of HCLU Video Advocacy Training successfully finished!

May 29, 2012

14 harm reduction and drug policy activists were trained in Budapest by the HCLU. We wish our partner trainees successful use of their newly acquired video advocacy skills in their struggle for human rights and humane drug policies!

The HCLU Video Advocacy Training was held in Budapest between 21 and 25 of May 2012. The 14 participants arrived from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Bulgaria and Poland. The video advocacy training material was written and presented by István Gábor Takács, the Director of HCLU's Video Advocacy Program. Some parts of the video advocacy theory presentations were built on the training material of Witness. The international drug policy and human rights related education was held by Péter Sárosi, head of the Drug Policy Program. Future video advocacy plans of participants were reviewed by Balázs Dénes, head of the HCLU. The logistics were organized by Andrea Polgár, translations during preparations were voluntarily provided by Dina Balogh, and during the whole course, the trainees were assisted by Ádám Surányi and Kata Sós of the HCLU.

Watch pictures of the training here:

We believe that we provide real effective help only if we provide basic knowledge on the whole spectrum of video advocacy, including theory, camera handling and editing, and we do best if we can also provide the basic tools. Therefore we decided to provide all the participants with a Sony Hdr CX 570 handy cam, a tripod, earphones, clip on microphone, SD cards and an interviewing and camera handling tip sheet that we designed for the participants. This way the participants can start producing their own videos as soon as they return home. The funding for 10 participants was made possible by the International Harm Reduction Development Program of the Open Society Foundations. To save time and money and to use this possibility as best as we can, we decided to bring along three extra trainees from our partners at the HCLU's European Drug Policy Initiative, and we were granted extra funds for this by the Global Drug Policy Program of OSF. 
 
The first day of the training concentrated on video advocacy theory. Participants learned how to make plans for video production, how to think about their budget and strategy, their objective, message and audience, how to find the right story and how to distribute their videos effectively. We also talked about the technical issues of videography and the necessary equipment that video activists need.
 
On the second day in the morning, we discussed camera settings and camera handling, framing and composition, and how to conduct interviews. In the afternoon, the participants formed five groups, whose task was to conduct a real interview in the city. The interviews were conducted at two needle exchange programs, in the HCLU's office and in a lawyer's office. Each participant had a different task in the group: "A camera" was filming the interviewee and B-Rolls, "B camera" was filming the reporter, cutaways on the interviewee and B-Rolls, and "C camera" was making a "werkfilm" of the whole process of the filming. Afterwards, the trainees had to go to the city to make B-Rolls, extra footage for their videos. We are very grateful for the expert interviewees who provided their prescious time for this excercise.
 
On the third day, we rented five laptops with the trial versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, the brand new editing software. In the morning session we learned how to handle the program, and from the afternoon the participants started to edit their own materials that they shot with their group the day before.
 
On the fourth day, we kept practicing editing and by the end of the day, participants were all ready with their first films. The participants were so enthusiastic that they worked until one o'clock in the morning to finish their works. One participant decided to produce her own video, and she has opted to edit a making-of film featuring her fellows, so in the end, we had six films as a result, instead of the five films we planned.
 
On the morning of the fifth day, Péter Sárosi, the Head of the HCLU's Drug Policy Program held a comprehensive presentation on the international drug control system and human rights, and in the afternoon we discussed the future video advocacy projects of the participants, with the participation of Balázs Dénes, Executive Director of the HCLU. 
 
The trainees plan to make films on various topics including: the strictening of the drug related parts of the new Bulgarian criminal code; access to treatment of TB and Drug addicts in St. Petersburg; problems with access  to methadone in Ukraine; more tolerance of doctors with compliance of drug users; absence of Hepatitis C diagnosis among drug users in Ukraine; female drug users in Georgia; about international drug policy issues, about HIV positive women, women in prisons and methadone in prisons in Kyrgyzstan; Roma drug users in Serbia; how harm reduction programs are affected by the world economic crisis; the situation of pregnant drug users in Russia; about overdose and police practice in Georgia and several more ideas. 
 
The trainees enjoyed the training very much and considered it very useful. Some comments by participants:
 
“It was personally the best and most interesting training I ever attended.”
“My motivation is now more strong and I believe in video advocacy.”
“Very good balance between theory and practice.”

You can see the results of the anonymous feedback from below, with the numbers of answers:

Some suggestions of improvement were for example to buy editing software for the participants, but this makes the budget way too high, and this is something we could expect from participating organizations in the future. Another suggestion was to apply for mini-grants, so that the best participants can realize their own works. We think this is a good idea, but we believe that starting video advocacy within an organization does not require serious special budgets at the beginning, and once they achieve success, they can include video advocacy costs in their future proposals. 
 
We are satisfied and we think we achieved our goal with the training that was to enable fellow activists to make videos on their own issues. We think our main message was that video advocacy is useful and it is possible, it is not rocket science and if you believe you can do it, and you dedicate yourself, there will be good results following your actions. Based on our good experiences, we hope we can organize such trainings in the future: we at the HCLU are ready and willing to share our experiences with likeminded NGOs and individual activist. 

István Gábor Takács
HCLU