Zak Bagans has always had a fascination with the darker side of the human psyche.
The American television personality is the creator, executive producer, and host of the paranormal series Ghost Adventures (Travel Channel), where Bagans and his team explore the world’s most haunted places. In one of his latest series, Deadly Possessions (Travel Channel), Bagans showcases his collection of haunted artifacts.
So it should come as little surprise that when the chance came up for Bagans to explore a new angle of infamous cult leader and convicted mass murderer Charles Manson, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
New York-based independent production company MY Entertainment has announced a high-concept co-production with Zak Bagans Entertainment. The series will follow Jason Freeman, Manson’s grandson, on a quest to meet his 82-year-old grandfather before he dies in prison.
The new series will be filmed in several locations, including Freeman’s home in Florida and California, and will feature audio footage between Manson and Freeman, recorded from prison.
While Manson’s life has been widely covered in the media, Bagans believes seeing the story told through Freeman’s eyes will offer viewers a perspective they’ve never seen before. What’s more, with both the critical and ratings’ success of docs such as Netflix’s Making a Murderer, ESPN’s OJ: Made in America and ABC’s Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers – American Sons, American Murders, consumer appetite for true crime is growing. That’s led Bagans to believe his new project will have no problem finding an audience.
“People are drawn to notorious figures,” he tells realscreen. “And Jason’s story is particularly gripping because he’s had to grow up with the stigma attached to the Manson name.”
A project of this scale isn’t without its challenges. To go forward with the climactic conclusion of the series — a face-to-face conversation between Freeman and Manson —Bagans has to figure out how to get Freeman and the crew inside the walls of California State Prison-Corcoran where Manson continues to serve a life sentence for a string of high-profile murders, most notably the 1969 stabbing death of actress Sharon Tate.
“Getting into the prison has been the hardest thing,” says Bagans. “We have our legal counsel and law enforcement experts, and ultimately were going to make this work. We’re right in the thick of it now, and Jason will be going out to California soon.”
The crew has started filming, and they’ll soon be ready to go to market with material to show distributors and commissioners. But Bagans says Freeman has already received a lot of direct interest about the project.
“It’s amazing to see how much interest is in Jason already, so I think once we catapult this into actual footage and we get a proof of concept ready, it’ll move very quickly,” Bagan says.