After being released from prison in 1967, an aspiring musician named Charles Manson (played by Damon Herriman in the film) moved to San Francisco. It was the summer of love and it wasn’t long before Manson’s magnetic energy and preaching began to resonate, specifically with women. His first follower was Mary Brunner, whom he was romantically involved with. He moved into her home and, soon after, 18 other women resided there with them.
Manson borrowed ideology from the Process Church of the Final Judgment, whose followers believe Satan would reconcile with Christ, and developed a power over these women. In line with the hippie lifestyle, they believed in free love and LSD. They fed themselves by dumpster diving and bartering. Some of the more notable members were Charles “Tex” Watson (who will be played by Sutin Butler in the film), Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, Linda Kasabian, Steve “Clem” Grogan, Bobby Beausoleil (who was kind of an outsider) and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (who will be played by Dakota Fanning), however there were many more involved.
Soon, Manson moved himself and “The Family” (as he began to call them) to Los Angeles. There, the Manson girls (as they were called) met Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys while hitchhiking in Malibu. The Family moved into his home for some time and, knowing Manson wanted to be a musician (it was basically all he talked about—that and how he was Jesus), Wilson introduced him to music producer Terry Melcher.
But the Manson family’s relationship with Wilson soured not long after and they moved to the dilapidated Spahn Movie Ranch in Topanga Canyon. Melcher came to the ranch to hear Manson and his girls sing one evening but didn’t offer to give them a record deal. This upset Manson so much that he soon altered the mission of his once “make love and not war” cult and made The Family train for the end of the world. He was sure “Helter Skelter,” as he referred to it, would happen because of a race war. He regaled his followers with stories of how they would be safe because they were prepared, but when Helter Skelter didn’t come he decided to put it into motion himself.