Progress Productions is an independent production company based in London and specialising in bringing entertainment and creative innovation to both traditional and eSport events around the world.
Progress is widely associated with the extraordinary success of Founder James O’Brien’s reinvention of the Olympic and Paralympic spectator experience by delivering an educational, entertaining and innovative programme of Sport Presentation at all sports during London 2012. Using CGI, projection, lighting and performance, our team created a new benchmark for Olympic and Paralympic production.
Since 2012 we have delivered Sport Presentation and Technology at many events, including the Dubai BWF World Superseries Finals in 2014 & 2015; Sport Relief for Comic Relief in 2014 & 2016; 2014 Tour De France Opening Ceremony; IPC Swimming World Championships 2015; 6 Day London; and Rugby World Cup 2015 – with an audience of over 2.4 million spectators
After spending a somewhat noisy and stressful day with thirty babies on the set of a Pet Shop Boys video, James knew it was time to move on to a new area of production. This came after four years of working on promos with some great directors and artists: Tim Broad; Julien Temple; Neil Jordan; The Rolling Stones; The Smiths and Janet Jackson, but after the aforementioned day of screaming and diapers, it was time for something new.
At 23 he became Production Manager, then Head of Production for Rapido TV, overseeing the anarchic and infamous Eurotrash (Jean-Paul Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes). The show was an eye opener: you don't encounter a Belgian rat restaurant or a company of naked cleaners growing up in rural Leicestershire.
Five years on James moved to MTV Networks Europe to manage the On Air department, producing all graphic content for MTV outside the USA, and later to the Events Team as Line Producer, then Production Executive. This role sent him across Europe on all the live content: from festivals (Rock Am Ring, V Festival, Reading, Benicassim) to concert coverage (from Destiny’s Child to Marilyn Manson); to annual events like the MTV Europe Music Awards, which he co-produced for 12 years. The lowest point at MTV came when rigging equipment broke just before a show, stranding Madonna inside a huge mirror ball.
In 2004 he turned freelance and produced Happy Birthday Elton! and Take That Live on New Years Eve for Whizzkid, T4 on the Beach and Laureus World Sports Awards for Done and Dusted, amongst many others.
In search of a new challenge he joined LOCOG in 2009 as Head of Sport Presentation. Tasked with bringing the high-level of production and creative values seen at entertainment events to London 2012, he set about creating a production model unlike anything seen before at the Olympics. The challenge was immense and life changing: producing Sport Presentation at all 771 sessions of the Games.
After London 2012 (and thoughts of early retirement) James couldn't leave the innovative, exciting world of sport behind, so he formed Progress Productions with Gemma Veiga.
It was at one of her earliest productions in the industry - a rowdy Oasis gig at Barrowlands in Glasgow - that Gemma felt her mettle had been tested and it had passed. In the process, it had whet her appetite for dynamic and demanding roles and she swiftly moved on as a freelance Production Manager, running an abundant variety of events for several major production companies, across all formats.
It was on one particularly notable production that she met James - at a derelict power station in Margate (involving home-built vehicles from all over the world being raced on oversized roller-coasters). Together they went on to partner on countless high profile events including the British Academy Film Awards, Elton John’s 60th Birthday Party at Madison Square Gardens, George Michael at Wembley, nine years of MTV Europe Music Awards, and two years of the Laureus World Sports Awards, among many others.
She is most proud of her role at LOCOG where, alongside James, she led a large in-house production team, managed the production of show elements in 36 venues simultaneously, devised and managed a extremely complex VT Production schedule, oversaw the recruitment and on-boarding of over 1000 people and, against all odds, brought the entire operation in on budget and to astonishing success.
In the 14 years since entering TV and Event production, she has focused mainly on worldwide music and award shows, working alongside the industry’s creative leaders and working for dynamic and high profile production companies. She is most comfortable in the arena of live events and is happiest when facing complex challenges in a bid to push the boundaries of creative and technical production. Exactly what Progress was set up to do!