First Folio Pictures presents
LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT
Last Will. & Testament is the most beautiful, eloquent and almost mesmerizing film I have seen on this great subject: Who was Shakespeare?.
Everyone who cares about Shakespeare has to see this film. Those who have an open mind on the issue will find it positively spell-binding.
Last Will. & Testament is a considerable artistic achievement and a force for historical reassessment.
Awards & Accolades
It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time; who wrote the works of William Shakespeare? Although the official story of a Stratford merchant writing for the London box office has held sway for centuries, questions over the authorship of the plays and poems have persisted. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles are among the many famous figures who doubt that a grain-dealer from Stratford-Upon-Avon was England’s “Star of Poets”. From Executive Producer ROLAND EMMERICH, SIR DEREK JACOBI leads an impressive cast featuring OSCAR® WINNER VANESSA REDGRAVE and OSCAR® WINNER SIR MARK RYLANCE on a quest to uncover the truth behind the world’s most elusive author and discovers a forgotten nobleman whose story could rewrite history.
First Folio Pictures in association with Centropolis Entertainment
Directed and Produced by
Laura Wilson Matthias
Laura Wilson Matthias
Director of Photography
Sara Parnell Crosby
Claire-Estelle Bertrand (UK)
Contributors (In Order of Appearance)
Gerald J. Meyer
Cristian Pirjol (Germany)
Max Zenk (Germany)
Martin Finney (U.K)
Peter Bloor (UK)
Best Boy Electric
Ray Meehan (UK)
Ben Watson (UK)
Kieran Teather (UK)
Helen Grundy (UK)
Susanna Posnett (UK)
Make Up and Hair
Susan Sittko Schaefer
Liberty Haynes (UK)
Lindsay Walsh (UK)
Archival Research and Clearances
Motion Graphics by
Creative Director Ramzi Hogan
Luis F. Morales
Francis De La Torre
HD Services Provided by
Different by Design & HD Cinema
Graphic Design by
Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Marlene Whitney Verbalink.com
Production Legal Services Provided by
Reder & Feig LLP Benjamin R. Reder, Esq, Noor Ahmed
Insurance Provided by
Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. Media Insurance Brokers Limited (UK)
Accounting Services Provided by
Bemel, Ross & Klein LLP
Travel Services Provided by
Yves Albiez, Abaris Media,
MOVING AND STILL IMAGERY COURTESY OF
Alan Bodell The Bodleian Libraries Bridgeman Art Library
The British Library Board
C-Span Corbis Images
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
The Coventry Diocese
The Folger Shakespeare Library
Getty Images Al Hirschfeld / Margo Feiden Galleries Ltd.
The Huntington Library
ITN Source John Rylands University Library Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Library of Congress
The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY
The National Archives of the UK
The National Portrait Gallery, London
Private Collections on loan to The National Portrait Gallery of London
The Royal Shakespeare Company
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Sony
Thought Equity Motion
Harriet Tuckey WGBH Media Library and Archives
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon
“ANONYMOUS” COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
Cecil Palmer Coward-McCann, INC. English Speaking Union, London EPM Publications Inc. The Free Press / Simon & Schuster, Inc. Gotham Books / Penguin Group Grove Press / Atlantic, Inc Anchor PRess / Random House, Inc. Random House Trade Paperbacks Harper Perennial Atlas Books / Harper Perennial Carroll & Graf Publishers Harper Collins Harper’s Magazine History Today Stratford Parish Register Meadow Geese Press The New York Times Oxford Institute Press Oxford University Press Paramount Pictures Parapress LTD Show Magazine Time Magazine US News and World Report W. W. Norton & Company
The Producers Wish to Thank:
J ade Gill
Eva von Malotky
Lauren Rae Matthias
Paul K. Matthias
Cast and Crew of ANONYMOUS
Nancy Eve Wolf
J oachim W. Dumkow
Richard F. Whalen
Special Thanks to:
The Honourable Thomas Lindsay and his wife Demetra Lindsay for exclusive access to Castle Hedingham, Essex.
Michael Cecil, Marquess of Exeter, and Miranda and Orlando Rock for their generous access to the Burghley House Estate.
The National Portrait Gallery, London for access to their unrivaled collection.
The Richard Paul & Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre at Concordia University
Nigel Bailey, House Manager, Wilton House, Wiltshire, U.K.
Cape Fear Community College Film and Video Production Department
Philip Gompertz, House Manager, Burghley House, Stamford, U.K.
Alan Scott, Warden, St. Martin’s Church, Stamford, U.K.
John Shahan, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition
Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK
Chapel of St. Stephens, Bures, Suffolk, UK
Concordia University, Portland, OR
Florence Gould Hall, New York, NY
Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK
Hedingham Castle, Essex, UK
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, CA
Jacksons Lane Theatre, London, UK
King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Middle Temple, London, UK
National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Properties, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
St Augustine's Tower, Hackney, UK
St. Etheldreda Church, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK
St. Martin’s Church, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK
Studio Babelsberg, Berlin, Germany
Wilton House, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK
The views expressed in the interviews and commentary are solely those of the individuals providing them and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of First Folio Pictures, Inc., Centropolis Entertainment, and their parent, affiliates or subsidiary companies.
Copyright 2012 First Folio Pictures, Inc. First Folio Pictures, Inc. is the author of this film for the purpose of copyright and other law.
ALL MATERIAL IS PROTECTED BY THE COPYRIGHT LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES AND ALL COUNTRIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY UNAUTHORIZED EXHIBITION, DISTRIBUTION, OR COPYING OF THIS FILM OR ANY PART THEREOF (INCLUDING THE SOUNDTRACK) IS AN INFRINGEMENT OF THE RELEVANT COPYRIGHT AND WILL SUBJECT THE INFRINGER TO SEVERE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, ELOQUENT AND ALMOST MESMERIZING FILM I HAVE SEEN ON THIS GREAT SUBJECT: WHO WAS SHAKESPEARE?
Alan Austin, PBS Frontline, The Shakespeare Mystery
Last Will. & Testament is the most beautiful, eloquent and almost mesmerizing film I have seen on this great subject: Who was Shakespeare? Not only is their case overwhelming, it’s easy to follow and impossible to refute. The Stratfordians try their best and are given ample opportunity to do it but come across as almost pathetic, as though begging the audience to believe that it doesn’t really matter who the author was. And that plea no longer works, because burgeoning new research now reveals that knowing the true author’s identity profoundly changes the meaning of some of the plays as well as our understanding of that period of history. I believe that even those who have never given a thought to the authorship “question” will find Last Will. & Testament a moving experience. I also have the feeling that this film, given enough exposure, will deliver the knockout punch to the Stratford apologists and send them back to school for a proper education.
BEST DOCUMENTARY ON SHAKESPEAREAN AUTHORSHIP EVER MADE
21 September 2012 - William Ray, United StatesI knew a good deal about this subject-matter before I saw the film, but I have never seen so compelling, complete, and aesthetically powerful a depiction of the history and facts. In addition to use of the 'Anonymous' commercial film scenes for atmosphere, 'Last Will and Testament' produces actual documents to illustrate its arguments. The interviews are convincing. One can literally go back in history and vicariously trace the events surrounding the concealment of the Shakespeare canon's shadowy author. That Shakspere of Stratford was not the author seems plain on its face. He became "famous" only after the fact, which indicates the invention of a contrived figure to replace the original writer. He had no recorded talent, background, interest, motivation, time, or capacity for the phenomenal achievements he was asserted to have accomplished. As to who did have all of these and who devoted his life to creating and financing the English Renaissance, that is a spectacular and tragic tale that has never been told. It is limned out in the documentary: a creative and athletic prodigy, perhaps the most learned person in the Elizabethan age, but a nobleman so mysteriously close to the monarchy and so freely critical of the English government that he constituted a threat to the legitimacy of the young English nation-state. This may be the background for necessarily arranging to re-attribute the Shakespeare canon authorship.
The film does not conclude matters for the viewer but presents the information to be considered. I was enthralled and wished it had been longer, --as well it might be with more sponsorship. It ought to be honored with an Academy Award for Best Documentary. An artistic and honorable contribution toward understanding the primary literary fraud at the center of Western culture. It will provide grounds to re-order our traditional concept of Elizabeth I and "Shakespeare", as well as the era in which they lived.
A QUIET, PROFOUNDLY EFFECTIVE FILM
11 November 2012 - Mark Krasselt, United StatesThe miasma that is the Authorship Question is fraught with twists and turns, accusations and counter-accusations, tom-foolery and skulduggery, Elizabethan codes and battle Royals whose stakes may seem academic but to the participants very real indeed. In fact, it is hard to separate the modern from the historical, and a pattern of intrigue not too dissimilar from the "Shakespearean" Canon itself. "Last Will. And Testament" is an all-around brilliant film, not flashy, not terribly ground- breaking when it comes to cinematic technique, but tells a complicated story simply, eloquently, sticking to essential details without getting mired in overkill. It's obvious the film could be a 10-part miniseries but, to the uninitiated, for whom this film is really meant, is a perfect start to an incredible story. Liberal sprinklings of the scenes from "Anonymous" avidly help fill the pictorial void of too many talking heads, although it should be said that nothing what they say is wasted, all of it compelling, and each person vivid and real.
Told mainly from the Oxfordian point-of-view, it's a pretty convincing outline of the major issues from start to finish, offering a nice historical overview of Elizabethan England to start— not the nicest place to be, politically speaking; "off with their heads" was a phrase heard and performed often to non-believers—and moving through the known history of William Shaksper (not much), the authorship question itself, and the likely candidate—Edward de Vere —and the many pieces of puzzle that form the final picture. Along the way, we are treated to observances from many experts on both sides—more from the Oxfordian view than the Stratfordian side.
The film makes many small, wonderful points throughout, not in a hard-hitting way, but subtly, intellectually, almost unfurling rather than documenting. Beautifully photographed, warmly edited, and nicely told, it's a great start for the uninformed, and bodes well for the future.
If there is a fault—and this is a very minor one—it's that the film is almost too polite. It postulates very plausible, fully realized coincidences and connections and allows both sides their say but never in the company of someone who disagrees with them. The interviewer is unseen and unheard and is never Socratically engaged, trying to draw the interviewee out of their comfort zones, trying to illicit the "big reveal." In an age of Michael Moore confrontation, this is a positive—almost antiquated respite—it manages this well, and allows the film to tell a story without being didactic about it. Even so, just a little back & forth questioning of the interviewees would have been nice and not particularly unwarranted, while still treating the subject with the reverence it requires and not allowing experts from either side blind exposure to their opinions.
That said, the two Stratfordians come across as fine scholars and gentlemen but who have still, essentially, missed the boat. They resolutely cling to their story like a boy caught with their hand in a cookie jar who deny the truth even while sent to the corner. Stanley Wells fares worst—his statement that Cecil is NOT Polonius in Hamlet is amongst his worst obfuscations, as is his claim than anything Shakespeare needed to know was taught to him in his grade school at Stratford-on-Avon, even though the level of knowledge contained within in the plays, as any expert can attest, is so specific to higher learning amongst the royals and the worlds best tutors, that no commoner could ever have had that kind of access. To them, Shakespeare just was, and then wasn't. Burning brightly for a short time, he lived, wrote, and died in a vacuum. Hardly the very soul of mankind whose plays were about courtly matters (he didn't have access to), travel to remote parts of the world (he'd never been to), or numerous and specific references to books (in languages he didn't understand), and on and on and on.
The film wraps up nicely with the de Vere heirs and their direct connection to the original publications of the First Folio, even mentioning the less-famous river Avon that runs close by and through a little town called Stratford-sub-Castle near Wilton House (the ancestral home of the de Veres)—a clear jab to those who believe that Jonson meant the more famous one at Stratford-on-Avon when he penned the words 'the sweet Bard of Avon' and not this modest river which, intellectually and geographically, makes all the sense in the world.
New evidence of de Vere's lengthy trip to the continent, and how this translated into the plays is presented. The film every-so-briefly touches upon the Prince Tudor theories I & II and how this has diluted —if not set back the cause a bit—the message of the Oxfordians. The Sonnets and their place in history as last gasp of a dying, forgotten man-who-would-be-king is an especially poignant, tear-jerking part of the documentary.
The Stratfordians, clearly, do not have much of an intellectual leg to stand on—the weakness of their arguments is in plain sight for all to see—as the preponderance of best evidence slowly moves from Stratford-on-Avon (and has for sometime in reality) and settles into the very heart of Elizabethan England, directly in the heart of courtiers and gentlemen, and points to a supremely flawed man possessed of singular, titanic knowledge, wit, and courage, whose writing has spanned the Ages and is directly responsible for much about the genius of man, but whose mortal coil is destined (hopefully for not too much longer) to remain metaphorically boxed in the ground, suffering his fame and genius not in silence but through the great words and scenes of his stage plays.
CLEAR AND CONVINCING
20 April 2012 - Howard Schumann, Vancouver, B.C."There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true."- Søren KierkegaardDirected by Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias with Roland Emmerich as the Executive Producer, the 84-minute film Last Will. & Testament documents the life of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, making a compelling case for his authorship of the works of William Shakespeare. Shot in 32 locations in both the U.S., and the U.K., the film was five years in the making with 253,000 words of interviews being recorded before editing. It was conceived as a factual complement to the fiction film Anonymous and as an antidote to those who claim that the Emmerich film is a "far-fetched fantasy."
Using clips from Anonymous to enhance the film's dramatic aspects, the documentary includes interviews with Oxfordians and Stratfordian spokespersons and discussion of key issues and events pertinent to the authorship debate. The first part of the film discusses the orthodox candidate, William "Shaksper" of Stratford, and the reasons that argue against his authorship of the canon.
The second section is devoted to the life of Edward de Vere, the main alternative candidate, describing his roots, his education, his life as a courtier, and the circumstances that led to his use of a pseudonym in his literary output. Author Charles Beauclerk said that Oxford was a more credible poet and playwright than William of Stratford. Even though he preferred anonymity to fame, he could not resist leaving clues as to his true identity in his work.
Beauclerk also made the comment that it was Oxford who instigated the English Renaissance and that "if we get Shakespeare wrong, we get the entire Renaissance period wrong as well." The third part of the film describes and dramatizes the totalitarian nature of the Elizabethan monarchy, the issue of succession that sparked the Essex Rebellion, the biographical connection of Edward de Vere to the plays and poems of William Shakespeare, and the roles of Queen Elizabeth I and Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton.
Anti-Stratfordian contributors include a wide cross-section of the community:
Actors: Mark Rylance, Derek Jacobi, and Vanessa Redgrave
Authors: Charles Beauclerk (Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom), Diana Price (Shakespeare's Unauthorized Biography), G. J. Meyer, (The Tudors), and Hank Whittemore (The Monument)
Professors: Roger Stritmatter PhD,Coppin College, Dr. William Leahy, Brunel University, Associate Prof. Michael Delahoyde, Washington State University, and Prof. Daniel Wright, Director, Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, Concordia University
Other spokespersons include Jon Culverhouse, Curator of Collections & Conservation at Burghley House, Michael Cecil, 8th Marquess of Exeter (descendant of Elizabethan statesman William Cecil,Lord Burghley), and William Boyle, Librarian at New England Shakespeare Oxford Library.
Two of the highest-profile Stratfordians, Stanley Wells, Honorary Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Jonathan Bate, Oxford University were given film time to state their views. Others, such as James Shapiro, were approached but declined to be interviewed.
Last Will. & Testament is a very informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking film, no matter which side of the debate you are on. Directors Wilson and Matthias were motivated by their concern for the truth, whether it turned out to be reassuring or upsetting to some. To paraphrase Belgian playwright, poet and essayist Maurice Maeterlinck, a truth that may be uncomfortable to some ultimately has more value than the most consoling falsehood.
While the Oxfordian case is clearly and convincingly made in the film, the authorship issue remains a towering literary mystery. Only the closed-minded have certainty. Ultimately the film requires us to assess the information to form our own opinion, to call upon our knowledge, intuition, logic, and common sense to make our own decision. When one can be comfortable with the mystery of not knowing, truth inexorably and inscrutably will reveal itself into the light. In that respect, Last Will. & Testament challenges us more profoundly than ever.
Sir Derek JACOBI CBE - Preeminent British classical actor, film director and long-time authorship sceptic and supporter of the Oxfordian position. He was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre.
Charles BEAUCLERK, EARL OF BURFORD - Writer, lecturer, and historian. Author of Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom . A direct descendant of Edward de Vere, he is the founder and president of the De Vere Society, and serves as a trustee of the Shakespearean Authorship.
Roger STRITMATTER PhD - Oxfordian author, scholar and lecturer. Professor of Humanities at Coppin State University and the former general editor of Brief Chronicles, a delayed open access journal covering the Shakespeare authorship question from 2009 to 2016.
Vanessa REDGRAVE CBE - Called “the greatest actress of our time” by the playwright Tennessee Williams, Redgrave came from a legendary theatrical family. She has received numerous accolades—including an Oscar, two Emmys, a Tony, and a Laurence Olivier Award—for her performances. She is also a longtime political activist and Shakespeare Authorship supporter.
Jonathan BATE CBE - Biographer, critic, broadcaster and scholar. He was knighted in 2015 for services to literary scholarship. Jonathan Bate studied at Cambridge and Harvard universities. He is a Senior Research Fellow of Worcester College Oxford, where he was Provost from 2011 to 2019.
Stanley WELLS CBE - Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. One of the world's foremost Shakespearians. He was knighted in the 2016 in recognition of his services to Shakespeare scholarship.
Michael DELAHOYDE PhD - Clinical Professor of English at Washington State University and outspoken Oxfordian.
Diana PRICE - A self proclaimed anti-Stratfordian, Diana has one overriding goal: to get the academic establishment to take the Shakespeare authorship question seriously. At first an agnostic on the authorship, Price set out in mid life on a scholarly inquiry into just what is known, and not known, about the life of the man from Stratford and the claims made for him. The culmination of her reseach is meticuloulsy layed out in the book Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography.
William LEAHY PhD - Professor William Leahy was appointed Vice Provost for Students, Staff and Civic Engagement, Brunel University London, in August 2018. Previously he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement) and Head of the School of Arts. Bill's early research specialised in Shakespeare and Elizabethan Processions. His particular interests have been the role and representation of the common people in Elizabethan and Shakespearean literature and, more latterly in the Shakespeare Authorship Question.
Daniel WRIGHT PhD- Dr Wright was the Director of Concordia University's Richard Paul and Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, through which he convened the annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, the world's largest academic symposium dedicated to the investigation of the origins of the works by the writer who called himself Shakespeare. Sadly, he died in 2018.
During these last two decades of his life Dan Wright was deeply involved in every aspect of the Shakespeare authorship debate, playing a key role in making the Oxfordian movement a significant fact of life in the world of Shakespeare studies. His presence will be sorely missed but his many contributions will live on. - Bill Boyle
Sir Mark RYLANCE CBE - Actor director and theater maker. One of the world's foremost Shakespearians. He was knighted in the 2016 in recognition of his services to Shakespeare scholarship. Mark was the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for 10 years. He is a trustee of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust and an honorary bencher of The Middle Temple Hall. He is most widely known in America for his six appearances on Broadway and his recent appearances in the films, Bridge of Spies, The BFG, Dunkirk and The Trial of the Chicago 7 .
Jon CULVERHOUSE - Curator of Collections & Conservation, BURGHLEY
Author of Burghley published 2009. Burghley is one of the largest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan Age. Built and mostly designed by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587.
G.J. MEYER PhD - Author of three popular histories: A World Undone: The Story of the Great War; The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty; and The Borgias: The Hidden History. Meyer received a Nieman Fellowship in Journalism from Harvard University. He earned an M.A. from the University of Minnesota, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and has taught writing and literature at colleges in Des Moines, St. Louis, and New York. He now lives in Wiltshire, England.
Michael CECIL BARON BURGHLEY - William Michael Anthony Cecil, 8th Marquess of Exeter, is the son of William Cecil, 7th Marquess of Exeter. He is the current Baron Burghley and descendant of the Elizabethan statesman William Cecil, Lord Burghley. He is also an outspoken Oxfordian.
Hank WHITTEMORE has been a Shakespeare authorship researcher since 1987, providing evidence in scholarly articles that the works of “Shakespeare” were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. His major research contribution was published in 2005 as THE MONUMENT , providing the first comprehensive, coherent, explanation of the profoundly beautiful, enigmatic poetical sequence of 154 verses entitled SHAKESPEARES SONNETS upon its printing four centuries ago in 1609. He is a prolific blogger in support of the Earl of Oxford's claim to the authorship of Shakespeare's works.
Roland EMMERICH - Executive Producer
Roland Emmerich began his career in his native Germany. He went on to study film at the film school in Munich, Germany where his student film THE NOAH’S ARK PRINCIPLE went on to open the 1984 Berlin Film Festival.
Roland Emmerich is one the world’s most talented and sought-after directors to date. His recent controversial feature ANONYMOUS explored the theory that William Shakespeare’s plays were written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. The stellar cast included Vanessa Redgrave, Rhys Ifans and Joley Richardson.
In 2010 Roland directed the box office hit 2012, an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an ends to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors. This major blockbuster starred John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton.
As well as directing, Roland has also produced some of our most popular ‘disaster‘ movies including 10,000BC , a fantasy drama which tells the story of the world’s first hero, who brings down an evil empire to save his love. In 2004 he produced THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, which follows a climatologist’s struggle to figure out a way to save the world from global warming.
In 2000, Roland directed THE PATRIOT based on the American Revolution. The film starred Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger and Joely Richardson. 1994 saw Roland direct the cult hit UNIVERSAL SOLDIER , which was followed by STARGATE the same year. 1996 and 1998 saw two of the most popular action films that the world had ever seen; in 1996 Roland directed INDEPENDENCE DAY a film that grossed over $800,000 worldwide. INDEPENDENCE DAY secured Roland the title of one of Hollywood’s top film directors. In quick succession, Roland released another Hollywood blockbuster GODZILLA , which he directed and produced.
Roland’s other directorial film credits include his first American film UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, STARGATE and TRADE.
In addition, to his work in film and television, Roland has also made considerable contributions to many charities, including, but not limited to the Gay and Lesbian Education Network (GLSEN), the Outfest Film Festival Los Angeles, the Cambodian Children’s Fund, the Trevor Project, Global Green, and The Gay and Lesbian Center of Los Angeles.
Lisa WILSON, Laura WILSON MATTHIAS - Director/Producers
Lisa Wilson (left) graduated from the University of Minnesota, where she was first introduced to the Shakespeare Authorship Question. Over the course of several months performing Shakespeare, she began to suspect hidden allusions and double-speak in the plays that would ignite a passion for the truth about the concealed author.
Laura Wilson Matthias (right) attended film school at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and later studied Film Theory and Art History at the University of Minnesota. She, too, would join the quest, engaging her passion for the cinematic arts in the pursuit. In 1997, they co-founded 1604 Productions and set out for Beaufort, SC to interview author and Oxfordian pioneer, Charlton Ogburn. Twelve hours of archival footage was recorded in what was to be his last interview. In his honor, they’ve been documenting the Shakespeare Authorship Question ever since.
The next decade would include travel to Canada, Italy, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom, documenting Authorship sites and compiling a multi-media archive of portraits, properties, tombs, monuments, engravings, documents and artifacts. Highlights include reconnaissance in Italy for Richard Roe’s Shakespearean Baedeker, three expeditions to Oak Island and years of privileged access to research on the cutting edge of Shakespeare Authorship studies, including the published and unpublished works of Dorothy Ogburn, Charlton Ogburn Jr., Joy Hancox, Roger Stritmatter, Hank Whittemore, Richard Roe, Charles Beauclerk and Jamianne Reinelt.
Oak Island, Nova Scotia is the site of one of the most expensive and unsolved treasure hunts of all time with intriguing ties to key Elizabethans. 1604 Productions (in association with National Geographic) scouted the island, conducted rare interview with the island’s custodians and recorded Global Satellite Positioning of the alleged Templar and Rosicrucian stone markers. It was on the first expedition that Laura met her husband Paul Matthias, whose company Polaris Imaging was hired to put a camera down the famous Borehole 10X.
In September 2003, 1604 Productions spent ten days in the United Kingdom with independent scholar and author Joy Hancox, and for the next decade, Laura would continue to work closely with Joy and The Byrom Collection of 514 esoteric drawings, including designs for medieval Templar churches, King’s College Chapel - Cambridge, Rosslyn Chapel, Westminster Abbey and several of the original Elizabethan playhouses.
Beginning in 2005, Lisa and Laura provided script consulting services to the motion picture ANONYMOUS (Columbia Pictures) and addressed the international press corp on the film set in Berlin and at Sony Pictures’ press junket in Cancun, Mexico. In 2010, they established First Folio Pictures with Executive Producer Roland Emmerich and Producers Aaron Boyd & Patrick Prentice to bring two decades of authorship investigation to a worldwide audience. LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT is the product of that partnership and represents Lisa and Laura Wilson’s directorial debut. It was made possible by Roland Emmerich’s generosity and genuine commitment to advancing open inquiry into the Shakespeare Question. In April 2012, LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT premiered in the United Kingdom on Sky TV and on PBS domestically and internationally. Also in 2012, the Vero Nihil Verius Award of Artistic Excellence was conferred on Lisa and Laura by the Shakespeare Authorship Research Center at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.
The North American premiere of LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT was Sunday, October 21, 2012 at the Austin Film Festival - two days before its release nationwide On Demand and iTunes - October 23, 2012. Foreign and domestic distribution continues on many streaming and VOD platforms.
Aaron BOYD - Producer
Aaron currently works at Public House Films, a film finance, development and production company focused on producing elevated content through traditional and emerging models. Before that, he served as Director of Development for Centropolis Entertainment, a major motion picture and television production company. Having worked in film production for over 15 years, Mr. Boyd started his career as an assistant in the writer’s room for NBC and FOX on the TV series’ The Visitor and Providence. Having joined the Centropolis family in 2000, he has been instrumental in the development and production of films including The Patriot (Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger), Eight Legged Freaks (Scarlett Johannson), The Day After Tomorrow (Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid), and Trade (Kevin Kline). Mr. Boyd has since developed and Co-Produced the features 10,000BC (Steven Strait, Camilla Belle) and the box office success 2012 (John Cusack, Amanda Peete), on which he also served as the second unit director. Most recently, he produced the award-winning feature documentary film Last Will & Testament, which is currently airing on PBS and being distributed by PBS International.
Patrick PRENTICE - Producer
Patrick Prentice was a six-time Emmy award winner who has been writing and producing documentary films for 25 years. He spent five years as Senior Writer for National Geographic Explorer, and another five years as the show’s Senior Producer. His producing credits include the Emmy-award winning TANGO! with actor Robert Duvall; PEARL HARBOR: LEGACY OF ATTACH, (two-hour special, NBC); and PASSION OF THE SAINTS, (four hour series for TLC).
His writing credits include the nine-part PBS series AFRICA; the three-hour PBS series Islam: EMPIRE OF FAITH; and LOST LINERS, a two-hour show for Discovery. Sadly, Patrick died on October 12, 2017 (age 74) in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. His passion for the Shakespeare Authorship question lives on in his son and onscreen in LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT.
Michael FLORES - Editor
Michael Flores has worked on several award-winning films since moving to Los Angeles and attending the University of Southern California, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema-Television Production. While studying at USC, Michael was awarded several scholarships including the John Frankenheimer Directing Scholarship for merit in directing, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts Entertainment Scholarship, and the Rodolfo Montes Memorial Scholarship. He was also selected to participate as a fellow in Film Independent’s Project: Involve in which he was personally mentored by Jeffrey Blitz: director of the Academy-Award-nominated documentary SPELLBOUND (2002). He edited the Student-Emmy-winning TV pilot, COST OF LIVING and wrote and directed the award-winning short film ESPERANDO (Waiting/Hoping). After graduating from USC, Michael worked as an assistant editor on Tamra Davis’s documentary JEAN-MICHELBASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD (2010), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; on Lisa Leeman’s documentary ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT (2010), which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival; and on Bess Kargman’s documentary FIRST POSITION (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Before working on LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT (2012), Michael edited Nick Broomfield’s documentary SARAH PALIN: YOU BETCHA! (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He has also worked with a number of other directors such as Jeffrey Blitz, Tommy O’Haver, and Renee Tajima-Peña and has worked on a variety of projects including narrative shorts, music videos, and commercials. He is currently working on a narrative feature for director Terri Hanauer.
Graeme Revell - Composer
Since Graeme Revell first appeared on the film scoring scene with his chilling score to the Australian thriller DEAD CALM, he has gone on to score more than 100 film and television projects for such high-profile directors as John Woo, Wim Wenders, Robert Rodriguez, Ted Demme and Michael Mann. Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1955, Revell graduated from the University of Auckland in economics and politics.
A keen observer of both traditional ethnic music and natural sound, Revell started his scoring career after picking up on rhythms in patient vocalizations at an Australian hospital for the mentally ill, where he was working as an orderly. He incorporated recordings of the patients into his music in an early example of the creative use of sound, which would become a hallmark of his later work in motion pictures. His experiments with recordings of insects and industrial machinery led him to create the early industrial band SPK. Revell’s unusual sound convinced directors George Miller and Philip Noyce to employ him on DEAD CALM which won Revell an Australian Oscar for best score.
Revell has since gone on to create highly influential scores in every genre of film. From the deeply lyrical ethnic sound collages of TO THE END OF THE WORLD, through horror/action/comedy classics with frequent collaborator Robert Rodriguez, serious action dramas such as Ed Zwick’s THE SIEGE and THE NEGOTIATOR, cult classics like THE CROW and science fiction such as his extraordinary Dante-inspired score for MARS: RED PLANET, he has contributed a unique voice. Although Revell is as comfortable in big budget Hollywood blockbusters like LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER as in serious dramas such as Ted Demme’s BLOW, David Twohy’s WWII military thriller, BELOW and Michael Gondry’s comical HUMAN NATURE, he devotes time to work on projects of passion. The poignant documentary Darfur NOW and the Shakespeare authorship documentary LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT are examples of this commitment.
Revell also won the award for best music at the Venice Film Festival for his score to Wayne Wang’s film CHINESE BOX. Recently, Revell was honored with BMI’s Richard Kirk Award for Career Achievement.
Revell is also a producer and the CEO of a startup tech company in Silicon Valley.
Piers WEINER - Narrator
Piers graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2009.
His theatre work includes OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR and MACHINAL at the Tobacco Factory, ‘Octavius’ in ANTHONY & CLEOPATRA at the Nuffield Southampton Theatre, THE MISANTHROPE at The Bristol Old Vic and‘Jimmy Porter’ in a mid-scale tour of LOOK BACK IN ANGER directed by Amanda Knott. Most recently Piers appeared in KING LEAR and THE CHERRY ORCHARD at The Tobacco Factory, who will be taking both productions to The Rose Theatre, Kingston in May.
Piers has extensive radio credits, and received the BBC Carleton Hobbs award in 2009. Credits include THE CHANGELING for BBC Radio 3, COLD, PLANTAGENET, SHIRLEYMANDER, THE DECOY, GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, THE MAN IN BLACK, WEIRD TALES, TOO MUCH INFORMATION, SHERLOCK HOLMES, TINKER TAYLOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY, SMILEY’S PEOPLE and BEWARE OF PITY for BBC Radio 4. He was also ‘Jude’ in THE ARCHERS.
THE SHAKESPEARE AUTHORSHIP QUESTION - William Ray, Willits California
Western culture is at the brink of realizing its supreme poet and playwright used the pen-name, William Shakespeare. But he was not the wool-broker from Stratford England, William Shakspere, who could not write.
We cannot span the gap between a stingy businessman’s life and Western civilization’s prodigal Poet and Seer. The earliest scholars suspected collaborative or group authorship, Then over time various names arose--authors who might have been as educated, eloquent, well-traveled, as knowing of court custom, sport, politics, and war, as the great works suggest. Bacon, Marlowe, Dyer, Derby, Mary Sidney—none seemed to fit the distinct lyrical rhetoric of heroic Honor, infused with universal insight and sympathy.
One thing great creative minds have always known: the Stratford Shakspere biography is not an artist’s life. Emerson, Whitman, Hawthorne, Clemens, Freud, James, Galsworthy said so, and numerous modern doubters agree—actors Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Guilgud, Mark Rylance, Derek Jacobi, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Michael York; and Supreme Court Justices Powell, Blackmun, Brennan, Stevens, Scalia, and O’Connor.
The trusted tradition is that Shakspere the businessman got rich quick in London writing plays, then went home at forty and died quietly twelve years later. But the factual record lends that story no support. Shakspere never manifested as a writer to his family, neighbors, town, shire, or capital city. He left no books, papers, letters, Bible, manuscripts, drafts, plays, poems, pens, inkpots, desks, tables, shelves, bookcases, musical instruments, provision for his daughters’ and grand-child’s education, or any other sign of a cultivated mind or deed. His literary record consists of six attempts to sign his name, none successful or even spelled ‘Shakespeare’. Alive never lauded, dead he went unmourned.
So it defies the rules of evidence and logic to believe Shakspere wrote the Shakespeare poems and plays—each courtly, aristocratic, learned, linguistically vast, and classically grounded. But once we learn from scholarship that “Shakespeare” was the secretive pen-name of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, the rebellious Renaissance nobleman who modernized the English language, then the Stratford-Shakespeare narrative falls away. The accumulated circumstantial, biographical, and textual parallels between Oxford and “Shakespeare”—including that his pen-name derived from legendary jousting exploits earlier in his life—comprise the biographical continuity of a genius to replace tradition’s contradictory just-so story.
From the youthful Comedy of Errors to the aged King Lear, but especially in the tragically autobiographical Hamlet, we can follow Oxford’s childhood, lineage, privilege, enormous learning, his philosophy, natural imagery, Italian travels, and bitter outcast state. For Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, suffered being the Artist-Seer of his age. This is the archetypal paradigm that underlies the canon called “Shakespeare”. The tale our culture has yet to tell is how Elizabeth and James made it necessary state policy to counterfeit Oxford’s art. Pseudonyms, compelled concealment, secret royal grants, deception in publishing, writing the creator of England’s foundation Myth out of his legacy and posterity—are previously disjointed fragments of History. We will not get “Shakespeare” right unless Elizabeth’s Gloriana is righted too, as the early English State that dealt brutally and falsely with the power of her literary prince’s artistic Truth.