S.C. film director begins work on 'Charlie's Place' documentary

S.C. film director begins work on 'Charlie's Place' documentary
The former Charlie's Place location is going to be the focus of a documentary. (Source: WMBF News)
The former Charlie's Place location is going to be the focus of a documentary. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An award-winning documentary filmmaker is in Myrtle Beach this week working on her latest project.

That project is a look at the history of Charlie's Place, a once-famous music nightclub dating back to the 1930s.

Filmmaker Betsy Newman said it's a story that needs to be told and it needs to be heard, and she said it's not just about the music and history, but it's about the people who are connected to Charlies Place.

"I grew up coming to Ocean Drive, now North Myrtle Beach, for the summer because my grandparents had a house there, and that was how I became interested in the history of the area and also growing up back then, it was also segregation," Newman said. "We always had black women who worked for us who could not go to the beach unless they were fully clothed and taking care of a little white child. So, for me, the black history of Myrtle Beach was always kind of mysterious."

Newman has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and is the recipient of a CINE Golden Eagle. Her documentary, The Education of Harvey Gantt, was screened in July 2016 at the March on Washington Film Festival at the National Museum of American History.

The South Carolina native said telling the story of what happened on Carver Street some 50-plus years ago just fit in with her interests of the history of Myrtle Beach

I've learned so much in the research that I've done and talking to people , the idea that where we're standing right now was just a center of nightlife, a big stop on the chitlin circuit," Newman said.

This week, an SC ETV film crew is in Myrtle Beach gathering video, interviews and pictures, and meeting community members to help bring the story back to life.

"And even as we've been standing here, on Carver Street, today, people have driven by, people who have stories, people who have connections, who know people with pictures," Newman said.

Charlie's Place saw performances from such famous singers as Little Richard, Billie Holliday and Marvin Gaye. The club's history also included an attack by the Ku Klux Klan.

Newman said the story has highs and lows, and she plans to tell it all.

The central part of the story is the music, and the film will focus on the connections, memories and people.

"That's what it all about; it's really all about the people," Newman said. "It was always about the people. When Charlie's Place was a hopping club, it was about the people who came here - the musicians, the dancers, the tourists."

Newman said she anticipates have the film completed by February 2018.

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