Full B i o g r a p h y
At age 13, Nicholas wrote, produced and directed his first film; a 15-minute documentary called The Crippled Lamb, exploring the life and philosophy of Brian Sempowski, a 10-year-old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The film won Best Documentary, Best Original Score and Best Director at The Cutting Edge Film Festival in 2004. It went on to raise $2000 for The Muscular Dystrophy Association and later was accepted into The Sprockets Jump Cuts Film Festival (an affiliate of The Toronto International Film Festival) where it screened at Cineplex Odeon and Famous Players in Toronto, winning the award for Best Film. Nicholas followed this project with a second documentary, The Unfinished Symphony; a meditation and thesis on life and death, interviewing terminally ill patients and cancer survivors, gaining their insights and perspectives.
Nicholas began his ventures into philanthropy while still in the 8th Grade. Rallying a team of nine other students, he fundraised over $1000 for The Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and founded the successful talent showcase, Shave for a Cure in which pounds of hair were donated for wigs and dozens more heads were shaved in solidarity. The following year, Nicholas led 17 teams of over 100 students in The Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and continued to produce and direct Shave for a Cure for three more years. At 14, Nicholas served as lead event organizer, writer, director, stage manger, promoter and producer for Shave for a Cure – involving youth from ages 11 to 19. Over four years, under his leadership, his school community raised over $35,000 for The Canadian Cancer Society with over 100 heads shaved and hair donated. Before graduating 8th grade, Nicholas was awarded to Ontario Principal's Award for Student Leadership.
At 14, Nicholas was recognized for his philanthropy, receiving the Mayor's Youth Award for Volunteerism, under Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen.
At 15, Nicholas took his filmmaking to the next level and proceeded to write, direct and produce a feature-length film on bullying and youth violence; The Vicious Circle. Utilizing all aspects of the media in his hometown and recruiting a team strictly made of youth, Nicholas involved over 100 teenagers from every Kingston high school and created a media frenzy of anticipation and support. His efforts caught the attention of 'End Violence Against Children', acclaimed support website bullying.org, and Dr. Wendy Craig (*Order of Canada) of PREVNet, a National anti-bullying organization. With the support of his community, Nicholas shot The Vicious Circle over 57 days in the summer of 2006. A year later, he premiered the film to a sold-out house at Duncan McArthur Auditorium and worked with Dr. Craig to implement the teachings of the film into various educational workshops across the country. His position as an 'expert' in the field of anti-bullying had him featured on CBC as a consultant in anti-bullying topics.
At age 18, Nicholas had spoken to numerous organizations including Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and various school boards. His efforts as a philanthropist and independent filmmaker had him featured regularly in Kingston media and ultimately honoured with the TD Canada Trust Scholarship for Student Leadership – a $70,000 scholarship and mentorship program, recognized by the Governer General, provided to 20 students across Canada out of thousands of hopefuls. Nicholas was also awarded the Loran Scholarship (which he declined in favour of the TD Scholarship) and was a finalist for the Top 20 Under 20 Award.
His filmmaking efforts had him accepted into Vancouver Film School where he graduated with honours. His year-end thesis film was accepted into film festivals around the world, including The YoungCuts Film Festival in Montreal.
A celebrated performer, Nicholas demonstrated his skills at an early age, winning the Bancroft Theatre Guild Award for Acting Excellence for his portrayal as Sparkle in Judith Thompson's gritty drama, Habitat. Upon graduating from film school, Nicholas began to further develop his career as a performer, creating a one-man show paying tribute to the late comedian, Jerry Lewis. Nicholas self-produced and starred in the show, placing his own sales calls to book it at retirement homes across the Greater Toronto Area. His determination to see the show grow had him teaming up with Celsk Benefit Promotions to produce a 90-minute version at The Orillia Opera House's 700 seat Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium. His first venture as a headliner caught the attention of a national production team in the US, Lonely Street Productions. They flew him out a year later to star in a 7-city tour of their concert revue, The Best of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Nicholas received rave reviews across the southern US tour for his turn as Jerry Lewis.
In 2011, Nicholas set out to write, direct and produce a second feature film, William's Lullaby. Self-funded, with a crew of only 7 people and budget of $2000, Nicholas shot the film in 16 days. His efforts paid off two years later when the film won acclaim and prestige on the international film festival circuit. It won numerous awards for Best Actor, Best Film and Best Canadian Film and celebrated two theatrical runs, selling out numerous times. The film was released on DVD and online streaming.
The UK Film Review said of the film, “Nicholas Arnold directs with soul and this is an admirable, no holds barred tackling of a very real issue in society.”
Two years after the US tour of The Best of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Nicholas was chosen to star in a brand-new biographical concert, produced in Ontario by Emmy Award Winner, Jesse Collins. The show, Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been, examined the lives and careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; their fame, breakup, and reunion years later. Nicholas became an instant collaborator on the creation of the piece and, along with Ontario crooner Derek Marshall, saw the show to its successful first run in 2016. Now celebrating its third-year of sit-down and extended runs across the province, Dean & Jerry has proven to be an instant success, and one that continues to pick up steam.
His reputation as a reliable, generous and wildly entertaining performer has had him emcee upscale events, weddings, award shows, charity fundraisers and more. As an emerging speaker, Nicholas speaks regularly to Rotary Clubs and high schools on the topics of Youth Empowerment, Leadership and utilizing failure to your benefit. Nicole Bozzocchi, Director of Leadership & Human Resources at the Trek for Teens Foundation said of Nicholas, “He worked to truly understand the mission and vision of our organization.” Amy Healey, teacher of the Applied Arts Program at L.C.V.I High School said, “The students were buzzing for the rest of the day! It was a perfect match.”
In 2017, Nicholas began taking his passion for writing professional. He published numerous articles and essays in celebrated online journals such as Elephant Journal, The Mindful Word, Intermission Magazine, and more. His article, How a Rich A-Hole Taught Me Compassion received the Editor's Choice on Elephant Journal (followed by approximately 2 million readers) and his short story, The Boy Who Knew was recently published in The Ginosko Literary Journal, Issue #22.