Established in 1926, Route 66 was originally hailed as "America’s Main Street" because it wound its way through the very heart of more than a hundred towns and villages from Chicago to LA.
In celebration of the historic highway's centennial, filmmaker John Paget and First+Main Films have announced production of the feature-length documentary The Main Street of America.
RELEASE DATE: Summer 2025
what happens When we go to town.
DIRECTOR JOHN PAGET
In 1994, John Paget strapped a TV camera to the hood of a 1969 cotillion white convertible Cadillac Coupe de Ville and hit the road. Destination: Chicago. And then, LA. And then, back to Chicago. U-turn and repeat. During these multiple cross-country trips on the Mother Road, John 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.
While researching, producing and promoting these films, John traveled the length of Route 66 a dozen times. And he met and worked with the road’s most iconic legends – singer Bobby Troup (1918-1999), TV-star Martin Milner (1931-2015) and Seligman barber Angel Delgadillo (considered the father of Historic Route 66). John's most important collaborator and biggest influence was best-selling author Michael Wallis. Through this friendship and mentorship, Paget inherited a perspective and passion for the Mother Road and its special meaning for America and the world.
Photos, clockwise from top:
John Paget & Angel Delgadillo on Route 66 outside Seligman, Arizona 1994.
John Paget with singer Bobby Troup in Beverly Hills. California, 1994.
John Paget with Martin Milner and crew of Route 66: Return to the Road in Santa Monica, California 1997.
John Paget and author Michael Wallis at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis, Missouri, 1994.
More about filmmaker John Paget
His many journeys on Historic Route 66 instilled in John a passion for leveraging the power of film to revive and revitalize communities across America.
John's TED Talk How to keep your hometown from becoming a ghost town,
reflects on a lifetime of creative work as a filmmaker dedicated to telling civic stories.
Read "Capturing 66 on Film"
- Route Magazine's profile of John Paget and his past films on Route 66.
"As the author credited with sparking the revival of Route 66, I am proud and honored to be part of the best-selling films chronicling the historic highway created by the talented John Paget. I have worked on many film projects with Paget since I narrated his brilliant directorial debut, Route 66: An American Odyssey
. This ultimate tribute Route 66 captures the true spirit of the Mother Road. It is exciting to join the Paget team once again as we prepare to mark the centennial of Route 66 with a fresh look at the road that served as America’s Main Street
Michael Wallis, author of Route 66: The Mother Road
THE MAIN STREET OF AMERICA
The legendary highway’s first nickname is the inspiration for our documentary's title and theme.
Our film also takes its cue from the legendary anthem of the highway: With "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" Bobby Troup made lyrics from a list of towns linked across the continent.
In that spirit, our feature-length documentary will tell the stories of the most interesting and inspiring small towns and main street communities from Chicago to LA. It's all about the places and the people – their history, their hopes, their future – after 100 years on Route 66.
FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR
It all started in a giant convertible Cadillac, rolling across the country on the Mother Road.
FOUNDER & PRODUCER
I was a “free-range kid” growing up in New Zealand with a walking range of about 3 miles, a biking range of about 5 miles, and a bus range of about 15 miles to downtown. Today’s kids are as flightless as a Kiwi bird. Not cool!
The Main Street of America
film will premiere as a moving celebration: a cross-country tour down Route 66. Partnering with Main Street America Programs
along the historic highway, we’ll screen the film at 26 select drive-ins and historic independent movie theaters from Chicago to LA. These screenings will be multi-faceted community celebration events, with live entertainment, crew and characters from the film, and other special guests.
First+Main FilmsPLAY MOVIE
is the creative studio where placemaking meets filmmaking. We tell stories about cities, towns, and neighborhoods to foster civic pride, build community, and spark imagination.
To learn more, watch our short anthem film: A Story Can Change a City.
what happens When we go to town.
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We'd love to connect as we embark on this journey.