Nicholas Burns studied Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba, was a member of the Bisons track team, was the Fine Arts representative on the UMSU student council, and graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1980, with a Diploma in Fine Arts.
While at the University of Manitoba, Nicholas also worked with filmmaker John Paizs on John's early animated cartoons, live-action films, and comic strips in the "Manitoban," the University of Manitoba newspaper. Nicholas was also a graphics editor, writer, and cartoonist for the "Manitoban."
In 1980, Nicholas started work at the Provincial Department of Health Education Graphics. There he met Francophone artist, Real Berard, who asked him to join the Manitoba Snow Sculpture team. After traveling to The Pas and Quebec City to sculpt, the Manitoba Snow Sculpture team was filmed at Westhawk Lake by Claude Grenier for the NFB film L'esprit Des Neiges/Snow Dream.
That year, Nicholas also joined the Winnipeg Film Group. He continued to work in film with John Paizs and other WFG members.
In 1984, Nicholas moved to Rankin Inlet, NWT (now Nunavut) and lived there for nine years. He researched wrote and drew several health and educational comic books for federal and territorial agencies, worked as a freelance graphic designer for aboriginal organizations and businesses, wrote short satirical programs for CBC Radio, and taught illustration and drawing at Arctic College. While in Rankin Inlet, he also helped form the community's first library board. He chaired the John Ayaruaq Library Board for six years.
Nicholas returned to Winnipeg in 1993 and continued to work as a freelance artist. He has worked on many films and videos in a variety of capacities: Director, Art Director, Storyboard Artist, Script Editor, Continuity, Props and Graphics, Location Scout, Sound Effects Foley, Actor and Extra. From 1998-2001 he was Secretary of the WFG's Board of Directors and helped organize and facilitate the WFG's Screenwriters' Group.
In 2003, Nicholas's script for "Snoring" was one of six winners chosen to be financed and produced from one hundred and sixty-nine entries in the national MocDocs competition. "Snoring" premiered at Hot Docs 2003, in Toronto and has since aired on CBC Newsworld, Zed, and Roughcuts.