Although Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol were cast at about the same time, O'Neal had approval over which lead role she would play and she chose to play Ferris. However, the 31st March 1980 edition of People (US) magazine said the opposite. It states, "as befits her TV recognition, Kristy had first choice over Tatum for Little Darlings (1980) leads and deliberately chose the troublemaker role".
According to the 31st March 1980 edition of People (US) magazine, "the movie's crew, as it happened, preferred Tatum's quiet but polite reserve to Kristy's more impatient and sometimes disdainful moods. In one moment of boredom, Kristy gunned her car into nearby Madison, Ga. and, jumping the curb, tore a large 'donut' into the grass on the town green. Confronted by angry police, the embarrassed production company later apologized (as did Kristy personally). "I'm just relieved that if my daughter has to be a rebel, she's ruining grass instead of taking drugs," says Carollyn [McNichol's mother]".
This movie is relatively unique in the teen movie genre where it is girls and not guys who are out to lose their virginity. The majority of movies about young people losing their virginity are movies with male protagonists such as Losin' It (1983).
During one scene, Kristy McNichol sits in the crowd looking bored as some other girls perform "The Sister's Song" from "The Pirates of Penzance." In the 1982 film The Pirate Movie (1982), McNichol wound up sitting through the song again, performed by her on-screen sisters.
Licensing rights problems relating to this picture resulted in a number of songs being removed from its videocassette and laserdisc releases. The songs were replaced with sound alike songs. As of 2010, this movie has still yet to be released on DVD.
The movie's summer camp scenes were filmed at Hard Labor Creek State Park on Fairplay Road, Rutledge, approximately fifty miles east of Atlanta, in Georgia, USA. Apparently, props and signage manufactured for the movie still remain there today.
According to Wikipedia, "An alternate version of Little Darlings (1980) was made for TV which had all the sex-related scenes and dialogue removed, giving the impression that, instead of trying to lose their virginity, Angel and Ferris were merely trying to make a guy fall in love with them. The deleted scenes were replaced with leftover footage not seen in the film version, including a scene in which Angel rescues Ferris from drowning in the lake. Some additional music was also used in this version".
The movie's music issues have been outlined by Wikipedia which states that "the film was notable for having a contemporary pop soundtrack, with music by artists like Blondie, Rickie Lee Jones, Supertramp, The Cars, and Iain Matthews. The original video release - on blue box VHS and laserdisc - kept the soundtrack intact, however, many songs in the film such as Supertramp's "School", John Lennon's "Oh My Love" and The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow" were removed from the second round of home releases - VHS red box - due to licensing issues, and were replaced with sound-alikes".
Kristy McNichol once said of Tatum O'Neal when O'Neal turned-up on set for the first time: "I thought, 'Uh oh, I'm gonna meet someone who I have not heard good things about.' But she's so nice. Everyone has their moods-I do too-but most of the time we got along all right".
The 31st March 1980 edition of People (US) magazine reported "when McNichol was directing an off-hours cast variety show, O'Neal couldn't participate, but later backed Kristy up when the other kids complained that she was a slave driver. 'She's a perfectionist' explains Tatum. But Kristy still bursts out defensively, 'You know, Tatum thinks I'm square, but I'm not. I just don't like to do the same things she does'."
Writers Kimi Peck and Dalene Young have said that Tatum O'Neal was always their first choice for the role of Ferris; the role of Angel was initially offered to Brooke Shields but her price was too high. Jodie Foster was also considered. When Kristy McNichol was hired, Young said she was disappointed, as McNichol was known primarily as a TV star, "but she turned out to be the best thing in the picture."
Writer Dalene Young was present when a cattle call of young male actors turned out to audition for the role of Randy. Although not part of the casting process, Young said she picked out Matt Dillon from the group and immediately knew he would be perfect for the part.
Actor Perry King was originally cast as Mr. Callahan. Before any of his scenes were shot however, King had a falling out with either the producer or the director. While the film crew shot around Mr. Callahan, a replacement for King was sought. By the time Armand Assante got the role, half of the movie was already completed.