Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Brand, Director of Media, Science Inc

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Brand, Director of Media, Science Inc

Sarah Brand studied an MSc in Sociology between 2020-2021, after graduating with honours from the University of California, Berkeley. She is now Director of Media at the venture capital studio Science Inc, based in Los Angeles.

Image of Sarah Brand standing outside
What inspired you to study sociology?

Sociology’s commitment to cultivating compassionate citizens.

Tell us about your research while at Oxford:

I studied the intersection of religion and politics in the United States, with an emphasis on conservatives, guided by my incredible supervisor Stephen Fisher.

My master’s thesis was entitled “College’s Effect on Religious and Political Affiliations”. The United State’s education funding suffers from the assumption that college has a “liberalising” effect on its students, since college completion is correlated with left-wing ideology. This assumption hinders right-wing support for increased investment in higher education.

However, my research suggests that it is not college itself that causally produces more liberal students, but merely that more liberal students attend college to begin with. 

Did you find anything surprising about living in Oxford?

I didn’t expect so much of the education to also live in your interactions with fellow students. With ⅔ of the graduate students at Oxford being international, each interaction is filled with rich, new perspectives.

Image of Sarah Brand standing in Radcliffe Square after her Matriculation Ceremony

Sarah Brand after her Matriculation Ceremony

What's your favourite memory of Oxford?

My favourite memory at Oxford is the day I filmed my music video “Red Dress.” For me, I felt I had become that day who I was going to be - a director. After the shoot, I then attended my college’s formal dinner, and then the after party. It was one of the best days of my life.

What lessons did you learn from studying at Oxford? 

I learned how to trust my instincts while studying sociology at Oxford. I became a better writer, sharper critical thinker, and stronger person.

Honing my sociological mindset at Oxford equipped me with the necessary tools to write innovatively for my work on music videos, commercials and screenplays.

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students?

Attend Oxford with an open mind. Open yourself up to new perspectives, new people, and new dreams.

What do you do now?

I am Director of Media at the venture capital studio Science, based in Los Angeles, California. At Science, I direct & write commercials, incubate brands, and craft marketing strategies across the portfolio.

Toward the end of my time at Oxford, I produced a viral music video that garnered international press coverage, from the BBC to Newsweek to The South African.

I moved back home to Los Angeles and produced more viral content. My traction with music videos, plus my degrees from Oxford and UC Berkeley, sparked the attention of Science. The day after I turned in my master’s thesis, Science hired me to bring a viral mindset to the commercial and investment world.

A still from a music video, showing Sarah Brand sitting on the floor of a church, surrounded by red confetti

A still from Sarah's song 'Red Dress'

How did you get into producing music videos?

While I was a student at Oxford, I realised I wanted to pursue directing as a career. However, with such a saturated media landscape, I knew I had to find a way to stand out.

For years, I had the idea of creating a music video about exclusion in the religious context - an experience I know well. I finally stopped waiting for the “right time” to film it, and began spending every ounce of my free time researching how to direct, produce, edit, act, etc. I taught myself guitar, and wrote the song “Red Dress.” I told hardly anyone what I was up to. For an inexplicable reason, I knew this project was important - I trusted my gut feeling.

I filmed one music video beforehand as a “practice round,” and then was ready to put my wacky music video idea into action. By some grace of the universe, the music video actually stood out in that saturated media landscape.

Sarah Brand stands outside holding a camera on the set of her music video

Sarah on the set of a music video

What's next in your career journey?

Outside Science, I spend my time writing screenplays. The next stage of my career will be directing and writing feature films.

My screenplays are guided by sociological introspection - for example, one is a romantic drama about metaphorical hell, while another is a dramedy about the founding of Oxbridge. I am looking to connect with interested parties to produce my films.

You can see what Sarah's up to next on her website or get in touch via email.
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