Eventually, the two got the funds together and when the time came to cast actors, Koenig wanted his friend, Newton, a stage veteran, to be the bad guy. The two knew each other from their time in Washington and Newton sang at Koenig’s wedding several years ago. Koenig returned the favor a few years later when he officiated Newton’s wedding.
“I had Matt in mind the entire time when I wrote the character he would eventually play,” Koenig said. “I was like ‘Yeah, I’m going to appeal to all the bad sides of Matt. I think he can pull this off and make this work.’”
For Newton, the chance to act in a movie was something he could not pass up.
“(Koenig) called me up and said ‘Hey, you want to be in a movie?’” Newton said. “I said, ‘Yeah, what do you have for me?’
“I thought ‘This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Who knows if I will ever get this opportunity again? So I’d better take it.’”
To be the antagonist in this Western, Newton said, he did not have to go far to find inspiration as Westerns were some of his favorites growing up. His character is tasked with leading his gunmen to drive the town’s residents out so his town will get the valuable Union Pacific station.
“This guy is supposed to be likeable,” Newton said. “He’s supposed to be a likeable guy, but it is a facade. He’s just a punk, just a bad guy.”
The story is based, very loosely according to Koenig, from the Bible story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt. Koenig, who does stand-up comedy on the side, cast himself and Wood for the lead characters because they “knew they could count on” themselves. The production process, which took about 14 months, had a very steep learning curve.