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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How To Succede At Failure ...

Those of you following my "life" on Twitter know of my recent pursuit of acting roles - you can blame B.Y.O.B. TV for that.  After doing that show, I figured it would be a small leap into extra work, and from there ... who knows?  Maybe a paycheck steady enough that I can stay on at The Brewing Network and keep writing scripts.  Anything to not have a 9-5 job again.  Not that my job was bad, because it wasn't.  It was great, and I was great at it.  Working from home just suits me better.

Today started out like many of mine do - lots of coffee, little food, pit of self-pity to roll around in. I happened to get a call around 3pm asking if I could be in Oakland by 4pm for a shoot.  "Um ... yes?"  And just like that, I landed a role.  Jason Petros would soon become ... "Bust Cop 2".  Villans, wet yourselves now.

The show is called, "I (Almost) Got Away With It, and I have no idea where it airs, or when, or even if it is good or not.  It's one of those re-enactment style deals, where they splice in interviews with the idiot criminal in between moderately acted flashback scenes.  Fuck it, it's a pay check, and who am I to disparage something for it's quality - I put out "Lunch Meet".

Firing along the 24, my head is swimming.  By the time I'm in Oakland on set, it's at the bottom of the deep end, being pulled down by the pool cleaner. So many emotions going through my head, it was actually hard to make sense of it.  I was - at the same time - confused, happy, scared, frightened, shitting myself, worried, anxious, tired, nervous, and maybe happy.  But I'm not sure on that last one.

The set was small - just some back alley in West Oakland.  The people were nice, and I had a few laughs with some of the other guys while we waited.  That's me though, Mr. Super-Eager-To-Meet-New-People ... Eventually I'm costumed to be a cop and again I am sent back to the RV to wait and pretend I wasn't packing a hot steamer in my shorts, laid sometime back between "Yes I can come in for the shoot" and "Yeah that's me - Bust Cop".

Blah blah blah and ... it's time for me!  Well, not really ME so much as "Any one of the cops that is dressed and ready to go, I need him out here now!"  I get rushed to the trailer, get fitted for my belt, and head to the set (the car across the street from the trailer) to walk through the scene with the Director, Evan.

"OK, Jason.  So you are really just going to pull the car here, get out, and just, you know, arrest Brian.  Ok?"

"Um ... sure, you got it."

"Ok great."

"Um ... what do - what do I actually SAY to him?"

"Just something like 'You are under arrest for DWI'.  Then cuff him."


At that point I realize I'm in over my bald head.  Unless I'm drunk, I don't know how to be dominate.  And I've never cuffed someone with anything that wasn't furry.  At any rate, we did the scene four times, and after some quick pick-up shots, I was cut loose.  The whole time I was standing there I felt like the biggest fraud in Oakland.  I was certain the cast and crew could see right through me, could see that I had never done something like this, and I was doubly sure someone on set was calling the casting director to ask what cruel joke it was they sent to the set in place of an actor.  Walking into the RV after my scenes was like facing St. Peter.  After all, here was this "guy", coming to their set, dirtying up their towels, stinking up the joint.  "Fraud", they thought.  "Waste of our time", they screamed at me with their averted eyes.  Ok yes I'm being very dramatic, but it's true - I felt like a total failure.  Not because I was told I fucked everything up.  And not that I was really asked to do things a different way.  I just hate anything that I do, and I hate it worse when I do things that people see.

Coming out of this, I really am not sure if I want to keep going down this road.  The time on set was great, and everyone was really very nice.  But I may just be too sensitive to be in front of a camera.  I feel much better hidden behind a mic, or a keyboard and screen.  Acting, especially your first time, can really be a mind-fuck if you are not secure in yourself and your talent.  You have to be ready to give everything you have and not hear one encouraging word when you are done.  You just have to pick up your guts off the floor, shove them back in, and ask "where to now?"

Even now, after my second Old Fashioned, I'm not sure if I went at all.  I mean, I'm just Jason Petros.  Clown.  Co-Host and Second Chair on the radio.  Neophyte screenwriter.  Chicken owner. Asshole.  That's hard enough to live up to.

At any rate, check out Season 4, episode 7 of "I (Almost) Got Away With It".  Airing Who-Knows-When, on channel Fuck-If-I-Know.  Look for the fat cop arresting the drunk guy - that's me!


  1. Wow! What a great write-up about what it's really like.

    BTW, the first thing a GOOD director does after yelling "cut" is go straight to his actors and start talking to them, building them up and giving feedback. The next time it will be exponentially easier, bro. Well done.

  2. I've actually seen quite a few episodes of "I almost got away with it" while suffering through brutal hangovers on Saturday afternoons. If I remember correctly the show is on the Discovery Channel or at least is part of the Discovery Family.

    Can't wait to see it and I'm glad I'll finally have some new fap material!