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‘Manson Girls’ quietly starts production

Lensing begins nearly a year after Sundance announcement

“Manson Girls,” focusing on the female followers of cult leader Charles Manson, has quietly started production nearly a year after the project was announced at Sundance.

Susanna Lo is producing via her Slomotion Studios and directing from her own script. Cast includes Taryn Manning as Sadie Atkins; Tania Raymonde as Leslie Van Houten; Monica Keena as Squeaky Fromme; Stella Maeve as Linda Kasabian; Estella Warren as Catherine Share; Chad Faust as Tex Watson; Ron Jeremy as a porn director; Bill Moseley as Manson.

Judy Fox, Brett Cranford and Taryn Manning are also producing “Manson Girls,” which focuses on the period leading up to the 1969 murders of nine people. Manson and three followers were convicted in 1971 in the slayings.

Lo told Variety that she’s aiming to illustrate how and why the girls came under Manson’s command.

“The girls were all very talented but it was a very seductive time,” she said. “We really don’t want to sensationalize the story any further than it already has been. I’ve always been fascinated by how the girls came under the spell of this strange, manipulative man.”

Visit Films is handling foreign sales and Lo is aiming to complete production in time for the Cannes Film Festival. Half a dozen scenes have been shot so far to assemble a “sizzle reel,” with the bulk of lensing taking place starting early next year in Redlands, Joshua Tree and San Francisco.

The Sundance announcement featured Guy Allison and John McFee of The Doobie Brothers providing music for the soundtrack. Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger of The Doors have come on board to write songs while Warren has been tapped to perform “House of the Rising Sun.” Manning’s is singing “California Dreaming” and Mosely is set to do “Five to One.”

Manson is serving a life sentence in a California prison.

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