With his directorial debut, David Ayer chose to create a film around subjects he knows all too well: Military veterans, law enforcement, the ghetto and violence. To completely understand Harsh Times, you should be aware that Ayer grew up on the streets of South Central Los Angeles and was exposed to "ghetto life" at a very young age. He later went on to join the Navy, only to return home to a life full of various jobs in construction. That is until he discovered writing, and finally had some sort of output for all the characters and life experiences running rampant throughout his mind.

Shortly after leaving the military and long before he struck Hollywood gold with a script called Training Day, Ayer tapped into all those unforgiving memories from his youth and penned Harsh Times. While Training Day was his meal ticket to a successful screenwriting career, Harsh Times was more personal; it was his heart and soul. Ayer was so protective over this script that he refused to give it to anyone else, hell-bent on directing it himself. So, he took out a mortgage on his house, managed to attach an up-and-coming star in Christian Bale and set out to bring his long gestating vision to the big screen. But was it worth it?