Behind the Lens of Gainesville’s Betterme
The first thing you notice about Chris Cano is his radiant warmth.
His suntanned skin, calloused hands and leafy green eyes give off the warmth of a person whose time is spent working in natural beauty of the outdoors, while his soft voice, kind smile and visionary goals give off the warmth of a person who sees real hope in everyone and everything.
Those two different, but complementary sources of warmth have coalesced to form Betterme Productions, a local video production company that has its sight set on bettering Gainesville (and the world).
Chris, who started Gainesville Compost (now named BikeCompost) in 2011, spent years crafting the story of his bike-powered food waste diversion program. After buying a video camera to document the program’s work, he realized the power of visual storytelling and started interviewing other bicycle-powered organizations in Gainesville.
After doing a memorial video for Bike Florida honoring the cyclists who had lost their lives in a cycling accident on Depot Road in the 1990s, he was hooked.
“I stayed up all night to get the edit done and I remember that I kind of got emotional watching it and I just thought, wow, this feels really right to make a video that even I feel so impacted by,” said Chris. “I realized I really loved the medium.”
Shortly after, the idea for Betterme was born.
Inspired by the premise of using video to help people share the better sides of themselves and their organizations, Chris reunited with an old acquaintance Sami Kattan, who was also exploring the world of video production at the same time.
Chris settled into the role of CEO and Sami settled into the role of Creative Director.
From the National Alliance on Mental Illness to Project Youth Build, Betterme has plunged headfirst into the world of nonprofit video production. Not swayed by the large budgets of commercial ventures, Betterme is committed to the original mission of capturing the stories of individuals and organizations that will improve both the people involved and their communities at large.
“I think Betterme Productions is a vehicle to helping and promoting the people who are solving the critical problems of society,” said Chris. “That’s really what it is about: creating this mission of uplifting the people who do important work so they can grow and have a bigger impact.”
In the age when everyone with a smartphone has the ability to create and distribute their own videos, Chris remains certain that high quality video work is a commodity.
“There is still an art form to video that merits a lot of time, expense and skill,” said Chris. “It takes your video to a new level that you can’t accomplish with just your cellphone.”
With Betterme just finishing its first year of operation, Chris is filled with gratitude for all the opportunity the city of Gainesville has offered him.
“Being here feels like we are at the heart of something really important.”
From turning the soil to turning the camera lens, Chris has channeled his contagious warmth into a meaningful vessel for change in the Gainesville community. Through Betterme, he’s making a better Gainesville.