Rooney Mara originally auditioned for the supporting role of Lucasta, but co-director/writer Tatiana von Furstenberg was so impressed by the young actress, she had her return to audition for the lead role of Fernanda, which Mara won. Furstenberg was delighted with her nuanced performance, saying, "Still waters run deep".
The director-screenwriters modeled Fernanda's wardrobe after 'Tatiana von Furstenberg''s sense of style, right down to having actor 'Tricia Mara' wear Ms. von Furstenberg's own shoes during filming. In fact, there were several days on set where the two were dressed almost identically, including once when both were in yellow dresses, bright thick tights, and the same exact tan heeled boots.
When Rooney Mara was cast in the film, she was still billing herself as "Tricia Mara". It was during the making of "Tanner Hall" that she considered changing her professional name to Rooney Mara, soliciting the advice of the cast and crew. She won a "Rising Star" award at the 2009 Hamptons Film Festival for her role as 'Fernanda'.