Behind the camera: How your support makes Kevin Gibney’s Indy Live work possible

Maxine Blane

Independence Live co-founder Kevin Gibney shares a look behind the scenes as he raises funds for the project

SINCE 2013, Independence Live has livestreamed over 700 events for free to a global audience.

Founded by Kevin Gibney and Derek McLean, the livestreaming service is run by volunteer citizen journalists who attend and broadcast events for free. Independence Live aims to democratise the news, putting livestreaming access into the hands of ordinary people. It has provided extensive coverage of events from across Scotland, including rallies, public meetings and conducting interviews.

It is part of a wider network of new media websites in Scotland which have sprung up in recent years, including CommonSpace, Bella Caledonia, Newsnet Scotland, Wings Over Scotland and Phantom Power Films.

The success of the project lies in the passion of the people who do it, and the commitment of people like Kevin Gibney to the project. Gibney is a full time coordinator for Independence Live, which is financed by a number of small crowdfunders each year. (You can donate to the latest crowdfunding campaign here.)

Independence Live streams a weekly round-up from the CommonSpace office to give readers and viewers an insight into the editorial process

The idea of democratising the news and offering unbiased live coverage may seem quite high-concept, but for Gibney the inspiration for the project grew out of something quite simple. He speaks of feeling frustrated with the almost wall-to-wall negativity in coverage presented in his local newsagents, and said that “headlines from the mainstream media certainly helped to motivate me, never mind any news programs on the TV”. Founding Independence Live with Derek McLean as a way to try and get information and positive news out about the referendum seemed a natural reaction to Gibney.

Independence Live is a proudly pro-Scottish independence outlet. “I have many reasons for supporting independence, like most other people, including those who are involved with Independence Live,” says Gibney. 

“To simplyfy, though, I want my family and the people who live here and have made Scotland their home to be part of a fairer society free of nuclear weapons. Also, having Edinburgh closerby makes it easier for us, the people, to go and shout at our elected politicians if they do things we do not like when we do get independence.”

“Doing crowdfunders every four months certainly increases the stress levels at home.” Kevin Gibney, Independence Live

Before Independence Live, Gibney co-ran an online company involved in video distribution but says that he “walked away from it the day after we livestreamed the indyref results from the Emirates in Glasgow”. The referendum result could have been a blow to the Independence Live project but instead became the impetus that led Gibney to focus on it full time. Now, Gibney supports himself by regularly crowdfunding a wage and basic running costs for the project.

Kevin Gibney and family

Working full time on what is undoubtedly an ambitious and demanding project doesn’t just affect Gibney. 

“My day is far from being 9 to 5. It does have issues but you have to work around them,” he says, and credits “having a wonderful supportive wife who is also politically motivated” for making his involvement with Independence Live possible. With twin five-year old daughters and a teenage stepson, Gibney is no stranger to the pressures of juggling work and family life.

“Doing crowdfunders every four months certainly increases the stress levels at home,” he adds.

Find out more about how to get involved with Independence Live and upcoming events here.

Gibney remains very involved with the physical livestreaming side of Independence Live, which often means attending events well outside of a set 9-5 schedule and working from locations all over the country.

When asked what an average day of work looks like, he says: “That's actually a tough one as it can be so varied. Everything I do is aimed at getting Scottish independence and how Independence Live can achieve this is way more than just livestreaming, it always has been.

“Bearing this in mind, one of the things I do is to try to work and develop our relationships with the new Scottish media like CommonSpace. I also work with people like Jason Baird from the National Yes Registry and John McHarg from Yes2 and many other groups and people who I now consider friends with a common cause.”

Independence Live covered the launch of Alyn Smith’s campaign for SNP deputy leadership this week

Developing ties with other grassroots organisations is one of the important things that keeps him motivated to continue growing the project and take livestreaming news to a wider audience. “It is never dull and you are always meeting great new people,” he says. “I want to see more ordinary people creating their news via livestreaming.”

Getting more people involved is part of the wider mission of Independence Live, under the mantra of “Don’t hate the media, become the media”.

“Indy Live may have a small voice in the world of media but we cover events the mainstream media cannot or will not cover”. Kevin Gibney

Looking forwards, Gibney describes the work undertaken by Independence Live as “hugely important”.

“Indy Live may have a small voice in the world of media but we cover events the mainstream media cannot or will not cover,” he says. 

Crowdfunding allows Kevin to continue working fulltime on the project, covering running costs including travel and wear and tear on equipment. Since 2013, Independence Live has grown from an initial livestream in Glasgow’s Southside to “an anarchistic collective built around wonderful people” who contribute not only by livestreaming but also by blogging and video editing.

“It has been a privilege for me to get to know and work with these people,” he says.

Considering the future of the project in the event of a Yes result in a second referendum, he is hopeful: “I've no idea what I will do after we get independence but I'm sure Indy Live will continue.” 

In the very immediate future, Gibney will be continuing with a round of crowdfunding that ends on Friday 23 July which you can donate to here. 

Independence Live will also be covering the march for Independence scheduled to take place in Glasgow on 30 July.

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Pictures courtesy of Kevin Gibney and CommonSpace