In one scene, the camera slowly heads towards the dinner table. Bob (Martin Sheen) is facing the camera on the far end of the table, Maureen (Kathy Bates) is to his right, and Jeremy (Emilio Estevez) is to his left. This position of the family and the shot is lifted from another family drama film Ordinary People (1980).
Jeremy, played by Emilio Estevez, is a post-traumatic war veteran from Vietnam. Estevez' first ever acting credit was as a messenger boy in his father's Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now (1979) (the scene was cut from the film).
When Jeremy and his father have their first fight in the kitchen (just after Mr. Collier has finished his story of the report card), Jeremy walks away from his father and out of the house. If you look closely, you can see that he was standing in front of a "Home Sweet Home" sign when he heads out of the house.
This is the first film that Composer Basil Poledouris scored after the passing of his father and felt that the film was right in tone for him personally (a young man dealing with personal conflict and tragedy) to accept the assignment as a personal tribute to him.
With the lack of money for the films' music budget, Composer Basil Poledouris called in a lot of personal favors so that the score would be recorded with the proper sized orchestra that the film required. Director Emilio Estevez was extremely grateful to Basil (and jokingly promising his future children) for what had had done for him and the film itself.
It was Basil Poledouris' agent Richard Kraft who had to completely convince Director Emiilo Estevez after he was a little skeptical about getting him stating ""Richard, let's be serious here for a second. Do you think there's anyway in hell Basil would consider this movie because I don't have the money?" In which Kraft replied to Estevez, "Basil's looking to do a smaller type movie and a more personal film. This could be it." In which Basil did read the script by James Duff and had an immediate connection with the film and Estevez personally and decided to do the film.
Director Emilio Estevez shot the film in 3:5 (or 2:35.1 widescreen format) and for a small movie this was considered kind of odd, but there were two things that he always wanted for this movie, which was a big look and a big sound to it.
This is the first orchestral score for one of Emilio Estevez's films he'd personally directed. Danny Elfman, who scored his directorial debut, Wisdom and his pairing with his real life brother, Charlie Sheen, the comedy Men At Work which was scored by former POLICE drummer, Stewart Copeland were both electronic scores. About a decade later in 2006, Mark Isham would provide an orchestral score to his film, Bobby. Tyler Bates would become Estevez's composer of choice with the films Rated X and The Way soon after. This film sadly would be the first and last collaboration between, Basil Poledouris and Estevez, despite the fact that he personally wanted to work with him again before his untimely passing ten years after this film was made.
The films' Director of Photography Peter Levy had also been the cinematographer on the film Judgment Night which starred Emilio Estevez three years earlier. Estevez may have hired Levy for this reason.
This was a personal project of Emilio Estevez's which he had been trying to get before the cameras for about four years during this time taking on projects such as the Mighty Duck films, Judgment Night and others to get studios interested in the project. Disney finally did in 1995 after Estevez agreed to appear in D3: The Mighty Ducks despite the fact that he was almost reluctant to return to the series along with co-star Joshua Jackson. Estevez's role in that film was basically a cameo as he was heavily involved with the making of this film. Both films would come out a month apart from one another, October-November 1996.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The film makes several references to previous Vietnam movies such as Born on the Fourth of July (1989) (the reunion of the protagonist and former love interest in a café), Platoon (1986) (the tracking shot of the veteran looking at the recruit), and Full Metal Jacket (1987) (the protagonist being pressured into killing an enemy).