Raised in Oakland, California, Bettinelli-Olpin attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where he studied Journalism.
Bettinelli-Olpin formed the Bay Area punk band Link 80 in 1993. On the band's first two albums, 17 Reasons and Killing Katie, Bettinelli-Olpin played guitar, sang backing vocals and co-wrote the lyrics with singer Nick Traina. After leaving Link 80, Bettinelli-Olpin worked as a music journalist and interviewed bands including Alkaline Trio, Dropkick Murphy's, Lawrence Arms, Avail, Blur, Violent Femmes, the Breeders, the Mars Volta and the Psychedelic Furs.
In 2016, Bettinelli-Olpin participated in a Link 80 reunion for the Asian Man Records 20th Anniversary. On June 17th and 18th, the band played two sold out shows at the San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill. The lineup also included singer Ryan Noble, guitarist Adam Davis, drummer Joey Bustos, bassists Adam Pereria and Barry Krippene, and horn players Aaron Nagel, Steve Borth and Jason Lechner. Prior to the shows, a video tribute to Nick Traina was shown that the band released the video online on June 20, 2016.
In 1999, Bettinelli-Olpin directed Alkaline Trio's first music video (Goodbye Forever) and, in the early 2000s, he appeared in many of The Lonely Island's early shorts (The Hot Seat, Vanilla Sky, White Power and The 'Bu). He formed the filmmaking collectives Chad, Matt & Rob and Radio Silence in 2007 and 2011, respectively.
Bettinelli-Olpin co-founded Chad, Matt & Rob with Chad Villella and Rob Polonsky in 2007. The group is known for their unique blend of comedy, adventure, sci-fi and horror. Among their numerous short films is the viral found footage style video Roommate Alien Prank Gone Bad and five installments of their first-of-its-kind series of Interactive Adventures. Their work online has over 100,000,000 views.
After the dissolution of Chad, Matt & Rob, Bettinelli-Olpin formed Radio Silence with Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella. The group co-directed the 10/31/98 segment of the feature film V/H/S. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures in October 2012. The following year, they made Devil's Due for 20th Century Fox and in 2015, their film Southbound premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released theatrically by the Orchard on February 5, 2016.
In all of his films, Bettinelli-Olpin has used music by Asian Man Records artists including Alkaline Trio, Link 80, MU330, Laura Stevenson and the Cans and The Atom Age.17 Reasons (1996)
Killing Katie (1997)
Devil's Due (2014)