Delinquent

Alex Shaffer, who starred along side Paul Giamatti in ‘Win-Win’ stars in ‘Delinquent,’ a film co-written by St. Joseph native Levi Smock.

Growing up rough can be tough, but one St. Joseph native is using his past to make an impact in Hollywood.

In August, Levi Smock’s film “Delinquent” was selected by Indiewire as the project of the day. This put him and his team in a competition for project of the week which they won, along with project of the month. Currently, they’re in the running for project of the year.

While blockbuster viewers probably haven’t heard of Indiewire’s project of the year, Smock says winning the competition is great publicity for a film. A previous winner, “Dear White People,” was met with critical acclaim and achieved a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“You also get sent to Tribeca (film festival) to have meetings with major distributors and industry people,” Smock says. “As well as you get a Blackmagic camera.”

For Smock and his film crew, the hard work is done. “Delinquent” is a finished film about a young man whose father is a small-time criminal.

“He kind of wants to be like him,” Smock says. “He sees it as kind of heroic. And then he gets mixed up in a robbery that goes wrong involving his father.”

Smock and his co-writer and director, Kieran Valla, started writing the script in 2011. Smock says inspiration for the film came from Valla, who knew someone as a kid who grew up on the other side of tracks.

“He had been over at his house one day when his father came home and started acting, you know, irregular,” Smock says. “It gave him this idea, that this is just a kid like us but his circumstances are different.”

Smock also drew on his experience as a St. Joseph native for some of the crime aspects of the film.

“I was on the wrong side of the law quite a bit when I was a teenager, so a lot of it is based on my experiences as a kid, you know, as a rebellious teenager,” Smock says. “As well as the experiences my co writer and director had growing up in Connecticut.”

Smock received his undergraduate degree from Missouri Western State University with a major in literature and a minor in film. He’s since studied screenwriting and producing at the American Film Institute. Smock is currently living in Los Angeles and tells anyone with dreams to keep pursuing them.

A former professor at Missouri Western brushed off Smock’s ambitions, but he knew that he could attain them.

“To me, it’s just knowing that you can, and setting those goals up and then following through with them,” Smock says.

Dave Hon can be reached at david.hon@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPHon.