Calgary director's Charles Manson doc challenges 'evil incarnate' narrative as oversimplified Social Sharing

On August 8, 2019 Optimum will launch a new book on the Manson Narrative. The book expands on and further explains the docudrama “The Final Words”.

CBC interviewed the author and here is the rest of the story

His name has become synonymous with evil,' James 'Buddy' Day says

David Bell · CBC News · Posted: Nov 16, 2017 7:05 PM MT | Last Updated: November 16, 2017

James 'Buddy' Day's documentary MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS digs into some of the misconceptions people have about 'greatest serial killer of all time.' (The Associated Press/CBC)

A Calgary director's documentary about Charles Manson, which opens Thursday at the Calgary Underground Film Festival, is challenging long-held assumptions about the man many consider one of the most evil people of all time.

"I don't know that anyone is evil incarnate," James "Buddy" Day told The Homestretch.

"I think that is one of the fascinating things about Charles Manson is that his name has become synonymous with evil. When you really dive down and unpack exactly what he is like and who he is, he is just a human being like everyone else."

Day's documentary, MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS, explores some of misconceptions many people have about the infamous convicted mass murderer and cult leader, whose followers killed nine people in late 1969.

"I think what is most misunderstood about him is that he really is a product of the criminal justice system that he grew up in. He was incarcerated when he was nine years old," Day said.

"Understanding him through the lens that he is the embodiment of prison is really important."

A new documentary challenges the assumptions many have on the life of Charles Manson. (File Photo/The Associated Press)

Part of what Day hoped to understand better is the truth behind the Helter Skelter theories.

Day says the Los Angeles district attorney at the time said Manson had gotten out of prison in 1967. After travelling around southern California recruiting people for his cult, he turned them into mindless robots to do his bidding.

"They then said that he became obsessed with the Beatles' White Album, and became infatuated with the idea that there was going to be a black versus white race war that would wipe out the world," he said. 

"They then said that he further brainwashed his cult to believe this and to further the race war, he ordered them to commit a series of murders that would somehow inspire the race war.

"They would hide in a secret hole in Death Valley and then after the race war they would emerge and [Manson] would rebuild the world after the victorious black army would require leadership of some sort."

Convicted of 9 murders

Day says many people don't know the actual charges and convictions Manson faced.

"It was commonly reported that he was convicted of the weekend murder spree which consists of the Sharon Tate murders and the [Rosemary] LaBianca murders. He was actually convicted of nine murders over a series of months, he received nine death sentences. The prosecution said he was guilty of carrying out these murders through a concept of vicarious responsibility," Day explained.

MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS opens Thursday evening at the Calgary Underground Film Festival.(Supplied)

He says his documentary team set out to construct a more fulsome narrative.

"We scoured the earth for anyone we could find that was associated with the Manson family. Many of them have been hiding since the 1970s. I spoke to three or four off-camera who didn't want to participate but would validate certain events for me and tell me I was on the right track."

Day says the process started by nailing down interviews with the man himself.

"On a whim I wrote Charles Manson a few letters. A few months later I was filming a TV series and to my great surprise my phone rang and it said, 'You have a collect call from Charles Manson,'" he said.

"I ran out and spoke to Charles Manson for the first time and then kept talking to him over the course of the next year and really did a deep dive of investigating with my team every aspect of the Helter Skelter theory and then got to meet a whole bunch of people and tried to unravel the mystery."

As to why Charles Manson's story continues to draw people in almost 50 years later, Day says it's complicated.

"I think there is a lot of misconception about Charles Manson. I think people are infatuated because they think he is the greatest serial killer of all time. That is an obvious source of public fascination," Day said.

"What I think, from my perspective, is most fascinating about it, is how deeply misunderstood not only the story is, but the motives and the personalities that were around there and him, himself."

Book_Cover_05_04_19 (1).jpg

James Buddy Day on Charles Manson

James Buddy Day Interview with Global

“You have a prepaid call from…Charles”

 August 8, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Manson Family murders. The crimes defined a generation and remain an incredible source of public fascination. Optimum True Crime Director and author James Buddy Day’s sensational new book that will have readers captivated and spell bound with a comprehensive look into the Manson Family Murders.

Buddy interviewed Manson for a year prior to his Documentary The Final Words . The book builds on his award winning Docudrama released in December of 2017 with extensive interviews with the prosecutors, the “Family Members” and many other supporting characters. The book challenges Vincent Bugliosi’s narrative on a Race War and a Religious Cult which he used to convict Manson and then mythologized through his book Helter Skelter.

 When documentarian and author James Buddy Day began talking to Charles Manson, Charlie’s story started with his insistence that the truth about him remained untold and that the system was—and had always been—out to get him. “When they lose control, they don’t admit that they lost control, they just lost face and they make another movie like you’re doing,” he told Day. 

“Don’t you want someone to make a movie about you that’s truthful, at least once?” Day asked him.

 Hippie Cult Leader was written by James Buddy Day as he put together THE FINAL WORDS, the only documentary on Manson made with his co-operation. The book will build on the global success of this groundbreaking documentary, which draws an average audience of 280,000 per viewing, even one year after its release. 

For more information about the book or to arrange an interview around the 50th anniversary please contact Dean Baxendale at 647 970 1973.