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Buffalo stars in filmmaker’s project

That helicopter buzzing parts of Buffalo on Friday might have caused some to think an aerial police search was unfolding.

Nothing of the sort.

A local filmmaker was shooting footage that he hopes will create an Internet buzz about just how great Buffalo is when his video, “Buffalo, America’s Best Designed City,” is finished later this summer or early fall and becomes available for online viewing.

The video will feature the city’s architectural treasures, its waterfront and its other gem, the Olmsted system of parkways and parks.

“I think it is a great untold story. Buffalo doesn’t get enough credit for its exquisite urban design,” said John Paget, whose other short promotional films of Buffalo have been watched online by upwards of half a million viewers.

Those videos, accessible on YouTube, include “This Place Matters” and “Buffalo. For Real.”

Paget, who moved here in 2005 from Olympia, Wash., said he immediately fell in love with the region and wanted to tell its story. The award-winning documentarian was hired by Visit Buffalo Niagara to make those first two promotional films, but this time around he put himself in charge and sought funding from different sponsors, including his former client.

Paget took aerial shots Friday morning of parks, parkways and buildings such as City Hall, the Electric Tower and St. Louis Catholic Church.

“There was so much to shoot that midway we had to go and refuel,” he said.

During a flight Friday evening, he filmed shots of Lake Erie, Canalside, the Buffalo River and a Bisons baseball game at Coca-Cola Field.

But that is only part of the production work planned for this summer: Paget says he also will film the city from boats and kayaks, and on land.

“We have these walkable and bikeable neighborhoods like Elmwood Village. These are the places Americans are moving back to and gravitating toward. They don’t want to be stuck in the car for two hours of commuting,” Paget said.

And, of course, the parks and parkways designed by Frederick Law Olmsted will help tell Buffalo’s story.

“Olmsted’s famous for designing New York City’s Central Park, but I would really argue that his masterpiece is here in Buffalo,” Paget said. “The story goes that he was invited here after we saw what he did in New York City. We wanted him to build us the same. He said our ambitions were too low. We’re going to put the entire city in the park.”

Paget also has high ambitions.

He says that if past experience proves correct, his short film, which will be five to 10 minutes long, will attract plenty of viewers on the Internet. “With these short films, they find their own audience,” he said.

Other sponsors of Paget’s latest cinematic endeavor are Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., the Larkin Group, Houghton College and Block Club Creative.