John Paget is a documentary filmmaker focused on stories about cities, towns and neighborhoods.

Why you should listen

In 1994, John Paget strapped a TV camera to the hood of his car and hit the road. His mission: to make a film about the most famous highway in the United States. Making multiple trips through the country's heartland from Chicago to Los Angeles (and back), he directed, shot and edited Route 66: An American Odyssey and Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner -- documentary films that rank as the pinnacle among devoted Route 66 historians and advocates. More than a road trip, it was a journey into the stories of hundreds of small towns, main streets and unique proprietors, all struggling to survive against the onslaught of freeways, franchise blight and suburban sprawl. Paget's documentaries helped spark a Route 66 revival, luring travelers back to Main Street and inspiring many communities on the brink to stage comebacks.

Intrigued by the power of civic storytelling through film, Paget's next stop was the ultimate underdog town: Buffalo, New York. There, he made a series of award-winning and acclaimed films that chronicled and catalyzed the ongoing renaissance of a once-moribund rustbelt city. To this day, he's driven by the agony of homogenization in the US and the thrill of seeing communities survive and thrive when they rediscover and celebrate their unique character, identity and story.

With his friend Chris Elisara, Paget founded First+Main Films, the creative studio dedicated to helping cities, towns and neighborhoods through films that foster civic pride, build community and spark imagination.

John Paget’s TED talk