It's been nearly two years since Georgetown's Allen Cramer started acting, and he said he's got the bug.
"This really was not planned at all, but it's just so fun," he said, with an it's-hard-to-believe-shake of his head. "It's all kind of fallen into my lap."
Cramer said his acting career started on a whim. He filled out some paperwork to be an extra in one of the Jason Bourne movies, but never heard anything. Then, out of nowhere, he said, he received an email from a company shooting a Bollywood movie in Washington, D.C., and they wanted to know if he was available the next day.
"I thought it was a scam," he said, laughing. "But I responded anyway, drove over there and did my part. It turned out to be legit."
To date, Cramer said, a lot of his acting gigs have come because he's made himself available and he's reliable. "I'll get an email or a phone call saying they need an extra to play a police officer or security officer, and a good portion of the time I'm able to get to where I need to be," he said.
He said he's mostly been cast as security or police, doing work as an extra on true crime television shows on channels such as Investigation Discovery, REELZ and TV One.
There's a reason Cramer keeps getting cast as a police officer or security personnel – he has the look, with a pair of sunglasses and his shaved head. He's of average height, but with a thick chest and strong forearms, he looks like he'd be difficult to move once he set his feet in place.
Cramer, who grew up near Seaford and Salisbury, and lived in Georgetown for over a decade, has more than just the look. He was in the Maryland National Guard for eight years, with several stateside deployments. The most dramatic, he said, was being stationed as an infantryman in Louisiana immediately after Hurricane Katrina. It was his job, he said, to help search, and then contain, areas too dangerous for civilians.
One assignment was straight out a movie, he said. A floating casino washed ashore, and his unit's job was to cordon off the area so the civilians didn't try to come aboard and steal all the money. "That was an interesting experience," he said, laughing.
Cramer moved from the National Guard to police work after a friend suggested he give it a try. "I had already gone through a lot of similar training, and he said he thought I'd be a good fit, so I did it," he said.
Over a period of about seven years, Cramer worked at the Salisbury Police Department, Crisfield Police Department and Salisbury University.
"It was quite the experience," he said of his time as a police officer. "I really enjoyed being a police officer, but there was a lot of hostility."
With great clarity, Cramer can recall the night his career as an officer was cut short. He said he was chasing a suspect on foot. Close to getting nabbed, the suspect hopped a fence and Cramer followed.
Then, all of a sudden, as Cramer followed the suspect, there was a, "pop, pop, pop," and a shooting pain down his back. That was it, he said.
Cramer said after a short period of recovery, he went back on the job, but he wasn't able to heal fully. He said his only option was desk duty, but he said, there's a certain level of pride that prevented him from continuing.
"You don't want to do light duty," he said. "I've got no desire to be stuck behind a desk. I wanted to help, but my back was so bad, there was no way. "I would have been putting myself and others in harm's way. It was kind of heartbreaking. I really like being a police officer."
With a career in law enforcement cut short, Cramer is back in school to become a paralegal. He said his school schedule sometimes interferes with his acting, but generally, he's been able to work when asked.Cramer said he wouldn't mind seeing if he can get a job working on a sitcom after he gets his acting chops up to snuff. He said he's also been writing a script, and not surprisingly, it's in the crime genre. He said he's still in the first stages of writing, but it's about two people turning to a life of crime to survive.
Cramer said he's going to be one of the film's protagonists. "Finally, after all these years of being a good guy, I'm going to be one of the bad guys," he said.
Looking out into the future, Cramer said it would be great to get a leading role for a production. He said his wife has warned him that he better not change if that happens. "The badge didn't change the person I am, and neither would that," he said. "I'm not going to forget where I came from."