James Covell: Being a Light in Hollywood

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— By Hannah Dorss —

James Covell, a music composer who has been working in the film industry for more than thirty years, treats his work as an opportunity to impact culture for Christ. He helps directors tell their stories by creating the musical scores for numerous films, TV shows, and commercials. James sees his work as providing a subconscious yet powerful impact on how viewers interpret the stories. In his work, James strives to be a light of Christ in Hollywood and encourages young film industry professionals to work with the same mindset.

James’ love for music began in high school, where he sang, learned a few instruments, took music composition classes, and wrote the Alma Mater for his school. He then attended the University of Southern California for music composition. After graduating, he interned at a studio and then started his own production company where he created jingles for commercials. Since then, James has continued to create scores for countless projects, including Street Outlaws, Left Behind, and the new Veggie Tales.

James says he loves the fact that he gets to work with creative people, create different pieces every day, and see his projects through to completion. However, he says that there are also unique challenges to working as a music composer such as dealing with periods of unemployment and overcoming the near-constant temptations of discouragement.

Stemming from his many years of experience in Hollywood, James shares several pieces of advice with young filmmakers. First of all, he emphasizes networking and perseverance. Putting yourself out there, he says, is crucial, but the process takes time and courage. Second, James explains that attempting many projects and continually studying and making art is the best way to make it in Hollywood. Finding a good team and being plugged into the community he also cites as essential.

Another important thing, he explains, is keeping in mind the larger purpose of the artistic work of a Christian: to ask deep questions and thereby expose the darkness. James believes that art can subtly persuade people of the truth of the Gospel by meeting people where they are at and challenging their perceptions of life. In this way, he explains, artists can be the light of Christ in the film industry, as long as they do not give into the temptation of discouragement in their work. James explains that it is especially important for young filmmakers to pray a lot to combat this temptation and to help them focus on bringing their faith into their lifestyle.

For James, art provides an opportunity to bring hope to others, tell them Christ’s story, and convey meaning to them. “Creating is a great thing,” he concludes. “I’m able to give people hope and a reason for being here.”