Shooting Lincoln: How local talent and the Virginia film industry made Spielberg’s blockbuster possible

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Lincoln never would have been made without the 200 block of East Main Street in Charlottesville. It may sound like gross hyperbole, but it’s true in a very mundane and specific kind of way. Because Erica Arvold—film producer, casting director, and acting advocate—has her office in a building there, and she was responsible for hundreds of the extras and principals who will fill the screen in Steven Spielberg’s epic depiction of the last four months in the life of the Great Emancipator.

According to a third party consultant’s report, the State of Virginia offered $3.5 million in tax rebates to DreamWorks, which in turn generated $32.3 million of direct spending in Virginia, 518 jobs, and a total economic impact of $64 million. Those don’t sound like union numbers to me, but let’s not split hairs. Bringing a Spielberg production to town is good news.

Down in the basement of the same building where Arvold has an office, James “Ike” Eichling runs Ike’s Underground, a vintage clothing store. Eichling got one of those 518 jobs and the chance to sit across the table from Daniel Day-Lewis for two days playing Postmaster General William Dennison, a member of Lincoln’s cabinet and a powerful member of the Whig party....

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