Prior to arriving in a new city, every producer needs the lay of the land. This guide explores everything about Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that producers need to know.
The Myrtle Beach area, also known as South Carolina’s Grand Strand, is a 60-mile stretch of coastline. The Grand Strand begins at the South Carolina state line at Little River (in Horry County) and stretches south to Pawley’s Island, inside Georgetown County. Considered one of the nation’s top vacation destinations, the Grand Strand hosts an estimated 13.5 million visitors annually. The increasing number of attractions, live music theaters, shopping centers, and golf courses attracts visitors throughout the year.
The Grand Strand has been visited by many regional, national, and international publications and broadcasting companies. For example, in 2001 the area was the scene for QVC Live-Fourth of July Picnic, Home and Garden Television (HGTV) Vacation Living broadcasts. Nationally the area has been featured in Southern Living Vacations, The Baltimore Sun, Newsday, Coastal Living, Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe. Internationally, articles have appeared in Golf Monthly, Going for Golf, Selling North America of the United Kingdom, Bellevue of Germany, and Crossings of Canada.
The Grand Strand remains one of the fastest growing areas in the country. It’s a bustling town with big tourism business, light industrial, a major university, professional sports teams, museums, thousands of great restaurants and oh yeah, nearly 130 golf courses!
Small business still thrives thru out the area. Most of the hotels along the ocean front are still owned by the families that opened them decades ago.
Recently, many major tourism names have come to the Grand Strand like Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, House of Blues and many others. With Darlington Raceway just a short drive away, the excitement and thunder of NASCAR can be felt with the first ever NASCAR Speedpark and NASCAR Café. There are a number of live entertainment theaters along the Grand Strand. In the mid 1980’s, it all began with a little theater in Surfside Beach called the Carolina Opry. The Carolina Opry spawned an entire industry and by the mid-nineties, there were almost a dozen theaters in Myrtle Beach. At its height, Myrtle Beach played host to The Gatlin Brothers, Ronnie Milsap, Snoopy’s Magic on Ice, Medieval Times, Alabama, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Legends in Concert. Many shows toured through the area as well. Now, only the Carolina Opry, Medieval Times, Dixie Stampede, Legends in Concert and Alabama remain. The Palace Theater located at Broadway at the Beach remains with some non-headlining song and dance type shows. These theaters can make great shoot locations and can prove to be very affordable.
Here are some other interesting facts about the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area: Number of annual visitors? 12.7 million How many golf courses? 120 with 4.2 million rounds played How many miniature golf courses? Over 50 How many restaurants? More than 1,700 How many outlet shopping stores? More than 300 How many live entertainment theaters? More than 8 with 11,400 seats How many hotels? Approximately 460 How many rooms? Just over 72,400 rooms during peak season, 47,000 representing hotel and motel only The Grand Strand is an awesome place with lots of resources and varied locations for any shoot.
Once you’ve decided to shoot in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina there’s plenty you should know:
Where to stay?
Are you familiar with your locations and drive times?
Do you need transportation?
How will the weather affect your shoot?
Do you know the production guidelines for the Charlotte area?
Is Myrtle Beach a high traffic tourism area?
Who are the Chamber of Commerce / Visitor’s Bureau?
Have you booked the right crew?
There are 460 hotels and motels along the Grand Strand. That represents more than 47,000 rooms with an additional 30,000 condo and other accommodations available. The challenge is two fold; where to stay based on geography and what type of accommodations will can I expect? Many of those 460 properties are older, mom & pop type motels that service their clients needs perfectly but would more than likely NOT satisfy most in the entertainment/broadcasting fields. The major hotels on the beach include: Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach & Breakers Resort Hotel.
Locations and Drive Times
Traffic here can be horrendous, especially during the peak times of the summer (Friday and Saturday nights in June). There’s basically one road in and one road out. US Highways 501 and 17 are the main thoroughfares in and around the Myrtle Beach area. Negotiating these roads and planning ahead is critical to the success of the shoot day. For example, Saturdays are the worst since most accommodations change up on this day. That means tens of thousands of people and cars on the roads at once. During these peak times plan up to one hour to move from North Myrtle Beach to South Myrtle Beach. Typically you can drive the entire strip of beach in about 30 minutes.
If you are from New York or Los Angeles and have not traveled to the South, you may not know that we don’t have reliable mass transportation. You will have to rely on taxis, rental cars or perhaps ask the crew for transportation. Few crews would have difficulty providing transportation, just be sure to communicate your needs with your crew as you set up the shoot. Once you arrive at your location, allow time to park. It seems simple, but parking along the Strand can be very difficult, especially with heightened security around areas in Myrtle Beach. Crews will always appreciate pre-arranged parking; it simplifies the load-in and avoids the risk of parking violations. Outside of the downtown it gets much easier, but locations like the Coastal Carolina University and the Myrtle Beach Pavilion may require some additional communication with a public affairs staffer.
There is no question why swarms of people head to the beaches of the Grand Strand every year… The Bikini. But, besides that our spring weather is some of the best in the country. However, you need to be prepared for the extreme humidity and heat of the summer months. If you are shooting outdoors always make arrangements for shade and water. Temperatures in Myrtle Beach are mild and comfortable most of the year. During the summer the average temperature stays in the 80’s, although in July and August the days can reach up into the high 90s and the humidity can make it seem much higher. Winter temperatures are certainly more mild and average around the 60’s with winter blasts of snow and ice very rare. The spring and fall are always temperate and close to perfect. Also check out USA Today’s weather page for more up-to-date forecasts or sunrise/ sunset times.
Days when max temp
is more than 90 degrees
Days with .10 inches of rain or more
Average air temperature (degrees F)
Average water temperature (degrees F)
Number of sunny days during
an average summer month
July & Aug.
Oct. & Nov.
Crews across the country have a set of guidelines by which they conduct business. And as different as each city is from another, so are those guidelines. Every producer should have a basic understanding of each city’s standards. Shoots in Grand Strand area are based on a ten hour day and the video crew is on the clock at the specified crew call. Overtime at a rate of time and a half begins after ten hours. If your shoot takes the video crew to a distant location or through heavy traffic areas, travel time can be expected. But all of these are just guidelines; certainly verify with your crew their specific policies.
Tourism and Visitor Stats
More than 13 million tourists visit the Grand Strand each year. Horry County leads the state in tourism, accounting for over 38% of revenues. The traditional tourist season (the summer months) is continually expanding, resulting in a more even distribution of visitors throughout the year. The county’s rapid growth is expected to continue, in the tourist sector as well as in other business sectors. Horry County is forecasted to gross approximately $6.6 billion in sales this year. Our retail sales rate grew at more than 150% of the national annual rate, with tourism accounting for over 50% of retail sales. Tourism has a significant impact on the Myrtle Beach economy. There were an estimated 13.6 million visitors to the area in 1999.
Estimated Number of Visitors
1997: 13.0 million
1998: 13.5 million
1999: 13.6 million
Visitor Origin: 20.2 percent of our visitors came from North Carolina in 1999. Another 29 percent traveled from states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and New York. The following are the top ten states of visitor inquiry origin: North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, and Georgia.
Visitor Occupation: Nearly 50 percent of the visiting population is employed in professional positions. This continues to affirm that our visitor base is becoming more affluent.
Visitor Age: The Grand Strand attracts young travelers; approximately 86 percent of visitors were under the age of 65.
Visitor Income: The Grand Strand attracts middle- to high- income travelers; visitor income has steadily increased over the years.
$120,000 or more
$15,000 or less
Visitor Length of Stay: The average length of stay along the Grand Strand was 7.09 days for leisure travelers and 3.52 days for business travelers.
Nights Spent in the Area
1-3 nights: 30.6%
4-7 nights: 58.0%
8+ nights: 11.4%
Chamber of Commerce / Visitor’s Bureau
If you have additional questions about the Grand Strand, like lodging, transportation, or locations, you can always contact the Chamber.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
1200 N. Oak Street
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
(843) 626-7444 or 800-356-3016
On the web at: www.myrtlebeachinfo.com
For more information on shooting in South Carolina, you may consider the South Carolina Film Commission.
South Carolina Film Office
1201 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201
On the web at:www.scfilmoffice.com
Booking the Right Crew
But even with the perfect location, the best laid plans, and great weather, so much depends on the right crew. Booking the right crew means finding a crew that not only gets the job done, but does whatever it takes to insure you have the best shoot. Are you conducting a series of interviews that require dramatic lighting? Are you going to be “Run and Gun” around the city or maybe the Speedway? Is your shoot going to require any specific equipment? Finding a crew that can handle every one of your needs is just as important as lining up all of the interviews and creating your shot list.
For more information on booking your camera crew see: “Everything you ever wanted to know about booking a video crew.”
This article was written by Skip Clark, Director of Photography in Charlotte, NC, for Go To Team. Go To Team is a leading provider of video production resources throughout the southeast including video camera crews. See their home page for more information.
Copying this information to other sites is allowed only in its entirety, with credit and web link to Go To Team.