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Impact of London Terror Attacks

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In the immediate aftermath of the June 7 terrorist attacks on London, which killed over 50 people and wounded more than 700, Londoners reacted with defiance and a resolve to get back to “business as usual.” The city’s thriving production and post communities were no exception.“This determination appears almost to be exaggerated, to the extent of manifesting itself as outright bullish defiance,” said Sarah Gee, managing director of Gee Broadcast Systems, owner of Lightworks. “Slogans and headlines such as ‘London can take it’ and ‘London will bounce back’ reflect the attitude of the general population.”In fact, the day after the bombings, which targeted the city’s transportation system during morning rush hour, most of London’s trains and buses were running again, carrying millions of commuters to work.“Most of London is back to business as normal today, and from where we’re standing, thank God, it seems that the event will not have any impact on our industry,” said Niki Gallacher, manager of London-based Makeup Artist Provisions (M.A.P.).But in spite of the bravado, Arthur Johnsen of Thomson Grass Valley, reported, “the world is very quiet in London today and the normal buzz of business activity is a little bit numb.”Added industry PR expert Meriam Khan, “It is very scary but I suppose we have, to an extent, become quite blasé over time as we have had the IRA for so long, even though they have not been active on the mainland for a few years… It just shows that it can happen anywhere and really no one can be completely protected.”Eddy Joseph of Soundelux, who served as sound supervisor on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was vacationing in Ireland at the time, but he reported that, “Knowing my crew the way I do, whatever happens, we will carry on as normal.”The day after the bombings, William Sargent, joint-CEO of Framestore CFC, was also reporting business as usual. “In our 20-year history we have faced this a number of times, with the IRA bombs as well as other tragedies,” he said. “The most amazing positive from yesterday’s tragedy was the sheer spirit of calm and defiance that emerged, both during the incidents and in the hours after—a determination that we will not be affected.” He added, “We have been very touched by the hundreds of e-mails and calls from our friends and colleagues on the West Coast.”Gee also reported a huge outpouring of support from colleagues in the US. “What has been quite special is the amount of kind messages we have received via phone and e-mail from around the world and for this we are very grateful. One of our premises is sited over one of the London tube stations, and this was evacuated yesterday, but it’s all back to normal today.”A day after getting news that the city would host the 2012 Olympics, which is bound to produce a windfall for the city’s broadcast, production and post sectors, Londoners found themselves harking back to the days of the Blitz, and the IRA bombing campaigns of the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, summoning up that calm, level-headed grit that has carried the city through good times and bad.“As a Cockney said to the Queen Mother when she visited East London during the Blitz ‘We can take it Mam!’” said Lawrie Read, director of camera rental house Hyperactive Broadcast.“The Brit mentality tends to be to carry on as normal, regardless, and ‘don’t let the buggers win by interfering with daily life.’ As a result the impact on the UK post community is likely to be small,” said Steve Shaw, president of DI consulting firm Digital Praxis. “If the might of the Luftwaffe couldn’t dent the UK spirit, a few terrorists haven’t a chance.”“We’ll come through with our normal, pragmatic, low-key sense of perspective and reality intact,” said Andrew Johnston of telecine manufacturer FilmLight.Indeed, most Londoners reiterated the importance of getting back to business as usual as soon as possible, with memories of the prolonged economic recovery after 9/11 still fresh in their memories.“The media industry in the UK may well be affected in the short term,” said Soho Editors co-founder and director of operations Rory Cantwell. “We suffered some partial effects of 9/11 when planned American work got cancelled or moved locally to avoid the need for travel. Initially, we are bound to see a similar downturn in business as memories are fresh, but soon [the realities] of living and working in this brilliant city will, I am sure, overtake those reservations and things will get back to normal. What is important is that the rest of the world helps us to achieve normality as soon as possible and does not react by pulling work from our businesses. Any deviation from normality is a win for the bad guys.”

Written by Scott Lehane

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