Tonawanda News — When local filmmaker John Paget chose Elvis as the topic for his documentary, he knew he’d have to find an unusual angle: Elvis impersonators.
“There had never really been a film done on Elvis impersonators, so I thought here’s an opportunity,” said Paget, who is originally from Olympia, Wash., but moved to Buffalo in 2005. “I just thought it would be a great, entertaining film and I’ve always been fascinated with Elvis and his impact on American culture.”
Every year there’s an annual contest held on the anniversary of The King’s death in Memphis, Tenn., to find the world’s best Elvis impersonator called the International “Images of Elvis” Impersonator Competition. When Paget found out about the championship he decided to follow a few of the contestants on their quest for the crown.
“I thought if I could find some characters and follow them on their way through the year at regionals and preliminaries and follow them all the way to the world championship I would have a natural and dramatic storyline to follow,” Paget said.
Through this process Paget was introduced to Irv Cass, who was competing for the title in 1999 and had been runner-up a few times before.
“So he was always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” Paget said. “He was in it for one last time and he was probably saying ‘I’m going to give it one more shot and this is going to be the last time.’ I thought ‘this is going to be interesting, either way whether he wins or not it will be a good story.’ “
Cass, who is now 45, entered his first Elvis impersonation contest in the early 1990s in his hometown South Bend, Ind. He had entered for fun with no intention of winning, but went home with fifth place.