2016 Tillman Scholar

Robert Ham

University of Southern California
MFA, Film Production

“I believe great storytelling partnered with activist organizations can make a great change.”

Growing up in Los Angeles as the son of musician and artists, Robert always aspired to be a film director. With 9/11 impacting him, Robert decided to finish college first and pursue the military later. Upon graduation, Robert was distracted by Hollywood, becoming disillusioned and really thinking deeply about who it was that he wanted to be. Feeling a personal calling to serve his country during a time of war, Robert’s decision to join the Army as a combat documentarian forever changed his life in the best ways possible. Robert has gone to more than a dozen countries, including a combat tour in Afghanistan, in order to tell soldiers’ stories. He’s witnessed and told stories of extreme courage and evil in some of the most unimaginable circumstances and believes storytelling is the best way for us as humans to connect and share our values.

Now back in Los Angeles, Robert is studying to be a director working towards his Master’s Degree in Film/TV at the University of Southern California. Robert feels the experiences and skills he’s gained in the military will help him tell truthful and human stories both about the Soldier and those we have tried to help. Robert is currently developing a short film that he’ll be turning into a feature film called ‘The Interpreter’. The story is based on Robert’s experiences with his interpreter while deployed to Afghanistan. With a film like The Interpreter Robert hopes to illuminate and help change the bureaucracy that keeps us from following through with the promise we made to them.