The film was cast through open casting sessions in Manchester and Oxford, UK. Actors could submit their details through the official website before being asked to audition. The director and Philip Pullman both agreed they wanted new and unknown actors to play the lead roles "Chris" and "Jenny".
An important aspect of the production is to educate newcomers to the film making scene. Every department has a number of trainees with little or no experience who will get a chance to help out with a real film.
Producer Rik Visser and associate producer Ryan den Rooijen were editors on the translated Dutch version of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Pullman also wrote the novel The Butterfly Tattoo (2008), on which the film is based.
The director handpicked unsigned and upcoming bands from Oxford for the soundtrack to the film. A "Battle Of The Bands" night saw shortlisted bands audition for the chance to appear in the Jericho Tavern scene in the film. The band "A Silent Film" were chosen to perform.