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.

Robert received the highest decoration for military storytelling, the Department of Defense Military Videographer of the Year award, three times — the most in Army history. Robert left active duty in 2014 and stayed in the Army Reserves until 2017. He graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Film/TV in 2017.
A three-time Emmy winner, he now co-owns and operates Hammr Productions, a production company he started with his late wife Melanie. Robert is currently directing a feature documentary called Searching For Bergdahl and in post-production on a second independent feature documentary, Interpreters Wanted, about the plight of Afghan Interpreters fighting their way to the U.S. Robert’s most recent feature documentary, Made With Melanie, shares the story of his wife and her battle with cancer.