James Sale

James T. Sale

Department Chair, Composing for Visual Media
Faculty, General Music


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Iranian-American composer James T. Sale has written music for film for over two decades. James has been the secret ingredient in some of Hollywood’s most successful films. James composed the height of childhood whimsy with The LEGO MOVIE, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 1 & 2, and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 1 & 2, the deepest conversations of the human condition with RETURN TO ZERO AND SISTER CITIES and the greatest of laughs in 21 JUMPSTREET and 22 JUMPSTREET.Providing a tone and enthusiasm that matches all projects regardless of size, Sale is a classic professional with a flawless record of team collaboration and origination. Through composition and orchestration, James is always committed to working with everyone to find the perfect elements that will allow each project to be unforgettable. James began writing music for feature films with THE CHESHIRE CAT in 1995 until becoming Mark Mothersbaugh’s head writer, orchestrator and conductor, starting with HERBIE FULLY LOADED in 2005. James co-wrote music for top-grossing films such as THE LEGO MOVIE,CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, TRANSYLVANIA 2, 21 JUMP STREET, 22 JUMP STREET, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS:THE ROAD CHIP. Other projects include SAFE, LAST VEGAS and in 2014 James began to collaborate with director Sean Hanish on RETURN TO ZERO. This is a collaboration that continued with SISTER CITIES in 2016 and most recently SAINT JUDY.James also spent years working on many award-winning video games such as GOD OF WAR I + II, GOLDEN COMPASS, LINEAGE 2, LORD OF THE RINGS: BATTLE FOR MIDDLE EARTH, CAPTAIN AMERICA: SUPER SOLDIER and more.Born in Washington D.C. to music-loving parents, James began drum lessons through the DC Youth Symphony at Roosevelt High School in 1978, after which he attended St John’s College High School, an all-male military college prep. From there, James enrolled in the Film Scoring Program at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied Composition and Orchestration with a major in Film Scoring. During this time he studied composition with Boston composer Thomas McGah, studied percussion with Dean Anderson, Principal Percussionist of the Boston Ballet and studied conducting privately with noted conductor David Callahan, a former student of Leonard Bernstein. After moving to Los Angeles in 1992 he began paying his dues, working as a librarian and copyist for Suzy Katayama at the Sony Music Library. James is also an avid supporter of Washington DC sports teams as well as London’s Arsenal Football Club.Look out for Dark Music for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra which is expected to premiere in 2024.


Bachelor of Arts | Berklee College of Music