Sidney Hall (film)

American drama film
Sidney Hall
Directed by Shawn Christensen
Produced by Jonathan Schwartz
Written by
  • Shawn Christensen
  • Jason Dolan
Music by Darren Morze
Cinematography Daniel Katz
Edited by Sabine Hoffman
  • Fuzzy Logic Pictures
  • Super Crispy Entertainment
Release date
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sidney Hall is an American drama film directed and co-written by Shawn Christensen. The film stars Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane and Margaret Qualley.

Principal photography of Sidney Hall began in late April 2016.[1] The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2017.[2]



A young novelist, Sidney Hall, writes a generation-defining book that makes him world-famous. This sets him on a downward spiral that destroys him, as he is depicted from the ages of eighteen, twenty-four and thirty.[3]




While touring alongside The Killers in the United States with his band, Stellastarr in 2004, Shawn Christensen wrote a number of short stories that he shared with his friend, Paul Wesley.[4] Following Wesley's recommendation, Christensen collaborated with his best friend and roommate, Jason Dolan, to compile the stories into a spec script called Sidney Hall. The inspiration for the screenplay was that the duo mused about the differences in life between the ages of eighteen and when they would turn thirty. They initially considered to make the titular character into an influential rock musician, but decided to go with the route of him being an author, when they realized the expectations of creating new music that could realistically be considered groundbreaking.[5] Wesley received the completed draft of the screenplay, which he described in an interview as, "one of the most beautiful things [he] ever read in [his] life".[4] Wesley presented the screenplay to William Morris Endeavor, which signed both Christensen and Dolan.[3] The screenplay for Sidney Hall was first reported to have been acquired through a discretionary fund by Scott Free Productions in 2008.[6] Joe Russo was to direct, Michael Costigan was to be the producer, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott were to be the executive producers and Jim Sturgess was to play the titular character.[7]

After the release of his feature length directorial debut in 2014, Before I Disappear, Christensen looked to Sidney Hall as his next project, which had not seen active development by Fox Searchlight Pictures in five years.[3] A number of film production companies, including Amazon Video, aggressively pursued rights to the film, but Christensen opted to have the film independently produced and financed.[8]


For casting the titular protagonist that Jim Sturgess was previously attached to portray, Shawn Christensen auditioned a significant number of young male actors, before twenty-four year-old Logan Lerman was cast to play the character for all three stages of his life portrayed.[8] According to Lerman, he was brought onto the project a year prior to the commencement of principal photography and assisted Christensen and producer Jonathan Schwartz with executive producing.[9] On April 13, 2016, Lerman's involvement with the project was revealed, along with Elle Fanning playing opposite of him.[10] On April 21, Michelle Monaghan, Kyle Chandler and Nathan Lane were announced to have joined the principal cast, as well.[8] Variety revealed on April 25 that Blake Jenner, Margaret Qualley and Tim Blake Nelson had joined the cast.[1]


Principal photography of the film began on April 22, 2016 at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, in Pleasantville, New York.[1] Approximately a third of the film of the film takes place in a suburban setting, inspired by Christensen's hometown of Wappingers Falls, New York. However, due to a tax credit that made production less expensive, the suburban scenes were shot in Rockland County, New York.[11] The cinematographer, Daniel Katz, shot the film with an Arri Alexa Studio and predominantly with natural lighting, as well as different kinds of lights for the three stages of the main character's life.[12] The production team considered utilizing traditional photographic film, but opted for digital cinematography, due to the feasibility of utilizing it for an independent production. According to Logan Lerman, an excess of footage was captured, in order to create more options for the post-production stage.[9] The production featured twelve-hour work days, beginning in April and going into May, shot between New York and New Mexico.[12]


Darren Morze, who collaborated with Christensen as Stellastarr's record producer and subsequently composed the music for all of Christensen's directorial work, was hired as the composer for Sidney Hall.[13] Utilizing a computer in his home's recording studio, Morze began composing the music prior to the principal photography stage, which allowed for the music to be played on set, to help the actors understand the mood of their scenes. Morze and Christensen considered a number of sources of inspiration for the score, including Vangelis and John Carpenter. Due to tonal needs, they decided to pursue a score complementary of Philip Glass's work- even including a single composed by him.[14] Contrary to Christensen's previous works that featured somber soundtracks, Morze looked to give Sidney Hall a generally more hopeful tone. According to Morze, he committed more time to composing in August 2016 and continued to work alone on the score for the film until just prior to its release in January 2017.[13]


Sidney Hall was selected as one of seventeen world premieres at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah.[2] The film was first screened on January 25, 2017.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (April 25, 2016). "Blake Jenner, Margaret Qualley and Tim Blake Nelson Join 'Sidney Hall' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Debruge, Peter (December 5, 2016). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2017 Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight Sections". Variety. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Reynolds, Matthew Wade (December 24, 2014). "How do you convert an Oscar-winning short into a feature?". Creative Screenwriting Magazine. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Radish, Christina (March 12, 2014). "Paul Wesley Talks BEFORE I DISAPPEAR, His First Experience as a Producer, Directing an Episode of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, and More SXSW". Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ Iwasaki, Scott (January 24, 2017). "Filmmaker started writing 'Sidney Hall' script with his best friend 10 years ago". Park Record. Park City, Utah. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (September 10, 2008). "Shawn Christensen sells his "Karma"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
  7. ^ Siegel, Tatianna (September 10, 2008). "WB, Lin join Christensen's "Coalition"". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (April 21, 2016). "Logan Lerman and Elle Fanning to Star in Shawn Christensen's 'Sidney Hall' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Chitwood, Adam (July 28, 2016). "Logan Lerman on 'Indignation', His Intense Preparation, and Why Directing Is His Ultimate Goal". Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ Lyons, Josh (April 13, 2016). "{Exclusive} Logan Lerman and Elle Fanning Join Shawn Christensen's Drama "Sidney Hall"". The Tracking Board. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ Barry, John W. (January 16, 2017). "Tax credit may spark Hollywood on Hudson". Poughkeepsie Journal. Poughkeepsie, New York. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Filmmaker Staff (January 25, 2017). ""Filmmaking Is a Series of Crushing Compromises": DP Daniel Katz on Sidney Hall". Filmmaker. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b Long, Kelle (February 27, 2017). "How Sidney Hall Composer Created the Film's Score Using Only a Computer". Retrieved March 22, 2017. 
  14. ^ Moye, Clarence (January 28, 2017). "Darren Morze Scores the Drama of Sundance's 'Sidney Hall'". Awards Daily. Retrieved March 22, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Printable Film Guide" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 

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