Because he wanted final cut of the film, Jeff Nichols originally considered to make the film with an independent film studio rather than at Warner Bros Pictures. It wasn't until his last meeting with Warner Bros that he informed them of this. However, the producers at the company still agreed to make the film, due to the small budget needed for it.
This is the eighth collaboration between actors Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks. Their films together include Blackbird (2007), The Missing Person (2009), Return (2011), Mud (2012) and Midnight Special (2016). They also appeared in the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014), and have appeared in two stage plays; including Lady (2008) and The Killer (2014).
Director Jeff Nichols' brother Ben (and his band Lucero) play the title song during the closing credits. Some of the lyrics describe the hidden world ("Now where I'm going Lord only sees", "It was right there before me been there all along, there in the darkness then bright as the dawn, but I couldn't see it"). In the final scene where the father is shackled in jail and staring into the sunlight, the lyrics reflect that image ("There at my feet then I was shackled in irons yearned to be free").