Nicholas Arioli

Nicholas Arioli

Director: Coin Operated


Nicholas Arioli is a first-time filmmaker. An engineer by training but an artist at heart, Nicholas spent years in the technology industry before making the jump to filmmaking. He was born and raised in New York City, now lives in San Francisco, and is red-green colorblind.


What is your favorite part of being an animation director?
Seeing your vision not just realized, but elevated. When you’re working with an artist, and you feel totally mind-melded with that person on what the movie wants to be, and they come back to you with something better than you could have imagined – that’s a great feeling.

What is your inspiration?
Obviously, movies and books are inspiring, but more than anything music is inspiring to me. It’s visually inspiring, almost like synesthesia. When I hear a piece of music I’m thinking “oh man this would go great with a misty morning shark attack scene.”

How did you get connected with Nimble?
I was introduced to Rex by a mutual friend, Dave Murphy (who went on to be our Layout Artist!) We sat down for a beer, I pitched him Coin Operated, and before I knew it we were off to the races. Rex is the man.

What are your influences?
Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman, Hayao Miyazaki, Sofia Coppola… I could go on for a while. Outside of film, Bill Watterson is a big influence.

What do you love about animation?
Movies are already such a powerful medium, and animation is movie making at its most powerful, its least constrained. You can do anything, the rules of the universe don’t apply, and people will believe and come along for the ride.

Coin Operated: Boy

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
DaVinci had a quote which goes something like, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” That resonates with me. I could always keep tinkering, but once we got the movie to the point where it was really working well, I knew I should abandon it.

Favorite animated short/feature?
Oof, that’s a hard list to narrow down, a few that come to mind right now:
Shorts: World of Tomorrow, The House of Small Cubes, Fresh Guacamole
Features: Akira, The Incredibles, Spirited Away, The Wind Rises, Ratatouille

If you could work with any filmmaker, living or dead, who would it be?

If you could be any animated character, who or what would you be?
A customer in the noodle shop in Kung Fu Panda. That noodle soup looked great.

What’s next?
Make more movies! I’ve been busily writing away, and now that I’ve proved to myself I can do this, I’m thinking bigger.

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