John Paget: Inspiring Buffalo Creatives Since 2005

By Vanessa Oswald

Buffalo is the empire state’s best kept secret. Sometimes our city gets a bad rap for the way the media portrays us in the news or because we’re not at the top of everyone’s vacation destination list because of the whole winter perception. Despite the fact that we have this reputation, the people who inhabit the Queen City know different, and people like John Paget set the example by shining a positive light on Buffalo and showing the rest of the country what we as a city have to offer.

     “When I first got here people would ask me, ‘Why did you come here, did you lose a bet?’” said 41-year-old Paget.

     Paget who is originally from Olympia, Washington moved to Buffalo in 2005. He says it was like the city had some sort of gravitational pull on him, and since moving here a lot of his documentaries seem to portray themes that sort of align with the essence of Buffalo.

     “If you look at the themes of a lot of my work it has to do with telling the stories of people or things that have been misunderstood or forgotten or neglected or undervalued,” said Paget.

     From Elvis impersonators to Alcatraz to Route 66 to his newest venture, “Believe,” which takes a look at the lives of real-bearded Santa Clauses; Paget’s subjects are all pretty much out of the ordinary.

     How he stumbled upon filmmaking though wasn’t unusual, through working for his high school’s student-run news station.

     “Our high school had a news service,” he said. “They would shoot and produce their own news program. I got involved with that and sort of enjoyed doing that. I didn’t know then that I necessarily wanted to do that for a living or anything. I didn’t have any plans for that, but that’s kind of why I started doing it.”

     Since his high school days, Paget has accrued a cabinet full of documentary ideas. His inspiration stems from several different places, such as photo essays, coffee tables books and The New Yorker. Basically, he spends a lot of time in used bookstores.

     “My ideas come from stuff I read,” said Paget. “I read a lot of non-fiction, like the New York Times, New York Times Magazine or The New Yorker. I use human interest stories, like the odd stories that you read about.” READ MORE...