Vivieno Caldinelli and Matt Watts Bring Us to the Portal To Hell!


Recently we got a chance to review the insanely entertaining short Portal To Hell!! from the comedy directing/writing duo of Vivieno Caldinelli and Matt Watts, and starring the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper. What’s even more of a bonus was to be able to snag a few minutes with the creative team to discuss the short film and how they desire to turn this into a full-length feature, as well as share a couple of memories about working with the Rowdy One – so tighten up your kilts and read on!

DC: Can you give an outline of the short to the people who might not be familiar to it?

MW: It’s about a building superintendent who used to be a boxer, and now his best days are behind him. His tenants keep pulling him away from his quiet time to perform menial tasks, and one night the power goes out and he goes to investigate, and he comes upon a couple of weird older white dudes running some kind of satanic thing in the basement, and it turns out they’re opening a portal to Ry’leh, trying to bring Cthulhu through to take over the world, and he has no choice but to step in.

VC: It’s a real call-to-adventure story! (laughs)

DC: Matt, you were the writer – how did you manage to come up with a story like this, and did you have Roddy specifically pegged for the role of Jack?

MW: Originally I had the idea for this as a feature, and then I was talking to Viv about it, and we agreed to make it as a short, and as it started to get drafted, it became very clear that Piper was the best option for it – it just seemed right, and we started writing it for him and started trying to get him, and it all worked out.

DC: Viv, what was it like working with Roddy? Any stories to tell from your time filming?

VC: Yeah, it was a dream come true, and the best way to put it is just imagine how awesome it would be to work with him, and times it by 100 – he was that kind of dude – so genuine, so nice, and within the first minute I met him, I saw his WWE Hall of Fame ring, and I asked him about it, and he took it off immediately and said, “Do you want to put it on?” He was just the tops. Portal to Hell

MW: The night he got in before we started shooting, it was just a very small get-together, after we all broke up, I said that I’d drive him to the hotel, and the hotel wasn’t in my city, so I don’t know where the fucking hotel was, so I got lost! The poor guy is exhausted, and I’m like, “I’m sorry – I’m lost” – there’s a bunch of hotels in the same cluster, and I thought it was one and I was wrong, so I had to pull out my phone and find out which fucking hotel it was. Anyway, it added another 20 minutes to the trip, and he was so nice about it, and not in a “oh, that’s fine” kind of way, but we just genuinely chatted, and he was just a delightful, lovely guy, and it’s tragic that we’ve lost him. For us, it was a dream come true to spend the time with him that we had, and he totally sells the thing – I think it’s one of the best performances he’s ever given, and he couldn’t have been a sweeter guy throughout the whole process.

DC: With both of your backgrounds rooted in comedy, how did you manage to complement each other’s styles when creating this?

VC: We’ve both got very similar sensibilities – from movies that we love to the same sense of humor, I think that we were able to pull it all together and make it work.

MW: As myself as the writer, and Viv as the director, I think that the way we complement each other is that I’m more along the lines of dialogue-driven humor, and Viv is the physical type of humor – he likes visual gags, and I for the life of me can’t really think of them – the face-melting in the short, that’s all Viv’s. The repetitive wordplay is me, and I think we complement each other that way – he’s the eye, and I’m the words, so it was a really nice collaboration, and I think we were a little worried about how we were going to gel on-set, but it all worked out.

DC: After the release of this, what’s up for the both of you in the future?

VC: The feature is our main focus right now – the short was never a destination, so to speak, but more of how we could tell this story and execute it. This was to build it up and to get the feature made.

MW: It was always intended to be Roddy in the feature, and our last conversations with him were about the feature and the excitement, so we’re in sort of a bittersweet, trepidatious forward step – we want to make the feature, and he wanted to make the feature, and I think he’d want us to continue. We just don’t know how we’re going to do it quite yet. We’ve got the first draft almost finished, and part of the festival showings are to try to find financing, and we just don’t know who we’ll use to fill his shoes, so we’ll be exploring that.  We’ve got the momentum, and it would be a shame not to do it.

Portal to Hell



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