Director Chris Weitz liked to do all the dangerous scenes in the script before he asked his cast to perform them. A stunt double taught Weitz and Demian Bichir how to climb a palm tree, and although Weitz was first to successfully climb one, Bichir did go on to film all the scenes himself, without a stunt double. Weitz told the audience at a SAG Screening: "That is why in my films there are not many scenes that require stunt doubles".
This film has been compared to the Italian film The Bicycle Thief (1948) in which a father and his son are searching for a stolen bicycle, which is desperately needed for his work. In 'A Better Life', a father and son are on a similar quest.