2 Minutes With … Andy Kelemen of Dessert Before Dinner

On taking an absurdist point of view

Andy is owner, executive producer and director of Dessert Before Dinner, a boutique production company specializing in comedic and playful content. Andy previously worked as a promotions editor and political ad creator. He launched DBD to bring the Pittsburgh filmmaking community together. 

We spent two minutes with Andy to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Andy, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up on the west side of Buffalo and I currently live in Pittsburgh. 

How you first realized you were creative.

We came home from a Disney trip when I was 7, and I recreated the layout of the parks with random objects. Spoons, blocks, cat toys—anything I could get my hands—on to painstakingly represent the rides, queues and experiences. My parents thought I was nuts—but they also got it. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

My third-grade teacher Sheila from Montessori school. You called your teachers by their first names at my school! She had a badass style where none of her clothes matched, and she would change shoes throughout the day depending on her mood. She was the living version of Mrs. Frizzle and encouraged me to be creatively "out there."

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

I grew up in the age of Jackass, so of course my friends and l took inspiration from that and created a public access television show. When we made the local paper, I genuinely thought there was a career in it. I still have the article hanging in my office.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I've been listening to a lot of Benny the Butcher lately—he's also a Buffalo boy.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

The Curse will change your life. Its commentary on millennial culture, white savior complexes and reality television—juxtaposed with absurdist scenes and wonderful acting—will stick with you. The finale is equal parts brilliant and terrifying.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

I tried to get a documentary off the ground about roller coaster enthusiasts—I'm one of those—in the same vein as the Trekkies doc from the '90s. It never materialized, but I'm really proud of the sizzle we made for it. I've thought about twisting it into a mockumentary some day.

A recent project you're proud of. 

We crafted a series of unusual B2B pieces for EBlock that, unfortunately, no one outside the automotive industry got to see. They're hard to put on a reel because they are so long, and when taken out of context, they're difficult to understand. Money guns, daddy hats, confetti cannons and elongated zooms are my jam.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

One of my favorite commercials of all time is Rupert Sanders' "Big Legs" for Monster.com The mix of magical realism with the brand's purpose is a perfect amalgam of creative and branding. It came out as I was graduating film school and helped push me into discovering more creative and weird advertising.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

Ryan Ebner of Artclass did a kickass job with Liquid Death’s "Death Dust" spot. His wit with their branding is a match made in blood.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Being able to think of ways to punch up the comedy in regular, everyday situations from an absurdist standpoint. I'm always trying to squeeze in another joke, moment or reaction that makes people go, "What just happened?!" I'm also proud of my ability to continue working and running a business while on dialysis three times a week. Guess what—it f*ing sucks! 

Your biggest weakness.

It's like a circus in my head. I'm always creating, envisioning or crafting. I love weird hypotheticals. It can be hilarious and dangerous all at once.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

My college editing teacher Frank. He taught me Avid, got me my first job as an assistant editor and advised me to treat every job, no matter how big or small, like it's the Super Bowl. I've held onto that advice really tightly.

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

I speak a fair bit to college students, hire PAs with little to no experience and try my best to connect them with others in the film community. Most importantly, I'm available for advice. I love looking over students' work and trying to give them suggestions. There's a lot of unnecessary red tape in our industry. 

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I would have finished that engineering degree and been designing roller coasters. Or, if you want a very candid answer, I seriously thought about opening a dick waffle shop in Nashville to cater to bachelorette parties. There's a stand there called Daddy's Dogs that insults drunk patrons while selling large hot dogs. I'd love to start a shop that slings off-putting comments while selling waffles in the shape of pee-pees.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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