July 19th, 2012
Elephant Quilt Productions launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of “The Shed” (working title), a documentary film about The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint, the beloved family-run BBQ phenomenon in Ocean Springs, Miss., which burned to the ground Feb. 12, 2012 after ten years in business.
The film will share the story of the quirky and charismatic Orrison clan as they work together to rebuild this local institution, which began as a literal shack and grew into a favorite destination for the Ocean Springs community and beyond.
The Kickstarter campaign launched July 5th and seeks to raise $80,000 in just 35 days, hoping to draw on the outpouring of support for the restaurant both before and in response to the recent fire. “It’s not just our family,” founder Brad Orrison says of what makes The Shed so special. “Really this place was built from everyone else that comes in and experiences it.”
“This is not just a story about a family rebuilding their business after a fire” says producer and director Jason Rhein of Elephant Quilt. “This is a story about perseverance, it’s about a crazy, awesome cast of characters called ‘ShedHeds,’ and it’s about love. We’re just glad to be part of it and to share their story with the world.”
Kickstarter contributors will have the chance to receive some once-in-a-lifetime perks, including being an honorary BBQ pit team member alongside The Shed’s award-winning crew at the “Memphis In May” BBQ competition. Another top prize is a private dinner with the Orrison family. If you give $10,000, you’ll get “The Whole Hog”: a pig roast for you and 50 of your nearest and dearest, along with executive producer credit on the film.
The fire was devastating. “Obviously this is a nightmare that you would never want to happen, to have your family business, something you love, burn,” says Brad’s younger sister Brooke, who pitched in to help him found the restaurant when she was just 18 and is now co-owner and business head of the operation. “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop us.”
The family is working hard to bounce back. Five days after the fire, they were selling BBQ out of a makeshift stand.
The Shed was born in 2001 when local son Brad Orrison, fresh out of college at Ole Miss, returned home to Ocean Springs and decided to combine his love of collecting old junk with his love of great BBQ. Brad, then age 24, and Brooke built the original Shed themselves as a roadside stand out of corrugated metal and the bric-a-brack Brad still loves to collect. When it opened, The Shed was just 30 by 30 feet and had no front door, a sure sign that everyone was welcome.
The Shed is truly a family affair; within a month of opening, the rest of the immediate family had joined the team. In addition to Brad and Brooke, mother Linda, aka “Momma Mia,” is in charge of marketing efforts, and Dad runs The Shed’s Saucery, where the eatery’s magical “Shed Spread” and its other sauces are crafted from scratch. “We raise our kids—and guess what, now we’re all working for our kids,” he says. Brother Brett, a musician and the music supervisor for the documentary, helps keep the blues alive by booking legendary performers like Buddy Guy, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Percy Sledge. The Shed has hosted thousands of free concerts over the years.
Now all grown up, Brad and Brooke remain co-owners. While Brad provides the “leap before you look,” gonzo-style creative drive, Brooke manages the balance sheets and makes sure they stay in business, which makes for some interesting family conversations around the dinner table.
By 2012, The Shed had grown into a full-fledged phenomenon, drawing “ShedHeds” from across the South and beyond for award-winning BBQ, great music, and the sense of community created by the Orrison family’s charm. The business grew exponentially, spawning five locations across the Gulf South.
When the original Shed was struck by fire, Rhein was already working with the family to film a version of their story for a possible reality show about life running a tight-knit family business. In addition to the Orrisons’ unique family dynamics, Rhein decided to document the process of rebuilding this local institution, and the film project was born.
The Kickstarter funds will go to cover shooting and post-production costs for the film over the course of summer and early fall 2012 as The Shed ramps up for its annual Shed Hed Family Reunion Blues Festival on September 22nd. This year it will mark the original location’s grand reopening should the rebuilding proceed as planned.
The film is expected to premiere in 2013.