August plays a Gibson J200, also used by Elvis Presley throughout his career. During their encounter in the park, he and Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character switch guitars. Rhys Meyers played Elvis in Elvis (2005) two years before this movie was released.
Two of the songs that Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character, 'Louis Connelly' sings, 'This Time' and 'Break' were considered as nominees for the category of 'Best Original Song' in the '80th Annual Academy Awards'
August's unique style of playing guitar, which includes banging on the strings, was innovated by the artist Michael Hedges. Other artists have continued to develop his style. In the movie, August's first improvisation session on guitar is actually Hedge's song "Ritual Dance", played by guitarist Kaki King.
The story is based on the plot of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. In addition to the main characters (August/Oliver, Wizard/Fagin, Arthur/The Artful Dodger) it also includes some of the more obscure characters from the book, such as Oliver's friend Dick from the workhouse/August's friend in the orphanage, Hope/Rose Maylie, Rev. James/Mr. Brownlow, and Lyla's Father/Monks.
Evan's hurried and disorganized writing of sheet music closely parallels the working style of Gioachino Rossini, best known for "William Tell" and "The Thieving Magpie", who is known to have written pieces mere hours before they were to be performed.