‘The Force Awakens’ Sound Editor David Acord On The Oscar Nomination He Never Thought He’d Get

David Acord did not wake up at 5 a.m. this morning to tune in for the live broadcast of the nominations announcement for the 88th Academy Awards. By his own admission, he didn’t see a nod for his sound editing on Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming, not from a mile away. Yet the film won key nominations in a number of technical categories, including sound mixing and editing. Acord and his frequent collaborator Matthew Wood have become Star Wars‘ go-to guys when it’s time to digitally drop in the whum-whum of a lightsaber, or the roar of a spaceship’s engine. Earlier today, we spoke to Acord about his surprise nomination, Lucasfilm’s famed privacy policy, and what his future holds. (Spoiler alert: It’s Star Wars-related.)

How’re you feeling about the nomination?

I’m still a little stunned, I think. It’s my first nomination, so I’m not quite sure how to handle this, mentally or emotionally. [Laughs.]

I have to imagine the position of sound editor for a picture as big as The Force Awakens was a pretty hotly contested gig. How’d you come into the job?

Well, I had been working at Skywalker Sound, which is the sound branch of Lucasfilm, for about 15 years, largely on other Star Wars projects. I worked on Episode II and Episode III. I worked as the designer and supervisor for The Clone Wars animated show along with my coworker Matt Wood. We’re working on Rebels now. We’ve been keeping the fire alive for Star Wars for some time. Having cut a lot of Star Wars material over the years — lightsaber fights, spaceship dogfights — it kinda came in handy, working on Force Awakens.

Since you’re the one working with all the footage, you’re privy to all these closely guarded secrets way ahead of the premiere. Was it ever difficult to keep everything under your hat?

No. Working on Star Wars projects for the past several years, you’re kind of, ah… How should I say this? Secretive about the material. It’s just kind of second nature after a while, you get used to it. That’s part of it all, keeping it under wraps. You don’t want to spoil it for anybody. To me, it’s less about security and more about the fans. You don’t want the fans to be robbed of any of the surprises.

Do you have any plans to celebrate? This is an exciting day.

I celebrated this morning. My wife and I went out to breakfast before I came into work. But honestly, I’m so surprised by this all, I don’t have any big plans. I’m going to Austin this weekend with some friends, but we made those plans before the nomination. I wasn’t thinking about, ‘Well, nomination’s coming up this weekend.’

You mentioned you went back into work today. What’re you working on?

I’m working with the Illumination folks, who did Minions and Despicable Me, on their new movie The Secret Life of Pets. I’m doing sound design and sound effects on that. After that, I’ll get to work along with Matthew Wood, my co-nominee, on Rogue One this coming summer.