College Alum to Be an Academy Awards Voter

A College of Charleston alum will be among the filmmakers picking Oscar winners next spring.

Nafees Bin Zafar ’98 announced on his Facebook page last week that he was joining the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ visual effects branch. Zafar is one of 774 new members in the Academy’s class of 2017, and is one of 65 visual effects professionals to make the cut.

“I feel incredibly blessed to have worked with people who have trained me, looked after me, and given me the opportunity to work on amazing projects,” Zafar said in a Facebook post. “I’m honored and proud to joint the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch.”

RELATED: Learn More About How Zafar Went From Bangledesh to Charleston and then Hollywood

Zafar graduated from the College with a bachelors in computer science and went on to create fluid simulation software that enabled the creation of terrifying floods and storms in films such as The day After Tomorrow and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. He was awarded a Scientific and Technical Academy Award in 2007 for his work on Pirates of the Caribbean in 2007, becoming the first Bangladeshi citizen to win the award.

He took home a second Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his wizardry in the realm of visual effects, specifically for helping to blow things up with software called the Drop Destruction Toolkit, which has been used in Tron, Iron Man 3, Thor and other films.

Zafar was born in Bangladesh and lived there until he was about 11 years old. Seeking better economic opportunities, his family moved to Charleston. Zafar enrolled at the College at 16 and graduated three short years later.

He credits the College of Charleston’s tight-knit computer science department for stimulating his interest in visual effects and for giving him the expertise necessary to begin a career in the entertainment industry.

Despite his appetite for digital destruction, Zafar is an extremely mild-mannered man. He’s returned to Charleston over the years to speak to high school and College students, encouraging them to engage in independent problem solving and to try things out for themselves. As he told one group of students:

“Trying different avenues in life has no cost attached. You always learn something, and you always come out ahead.”