Chasing Chaplin: principal photography wraps with first look image

Category: News Article, News Release

Photo credit: Charlie Chaplin, 1917, ©  Roy Export Co Ltd

Chasing Chaplin feature documentary from BAFTA-nominated Peter Middleton and James Spinney wraps principal photography with first look image

Altitude Film Sales will present new promo for the project in Cannes

Principal photography has wrapped on Chasing Chaplin (working title), the upcoming second feature documentary from Peter Middleton and James Spinney, three-time BAFTA nominees for Notes on Blindness. Today marks the 130th anniversary of Chaplin’s birth.

Altitude is handling international rights for the film and will be selling the project at Cannes with first footage promo.  Showtime has North American rights. Altitude has also acquired distribution rights to the film for the UK and Ireland.   

Chasing Chaplin is a unique and cinematic exploration of Hollywood’s most iconic figure.  The film charts Chaplin’s life in his own words and those of the people closest to him, reflecting on his meteoric rise to fame. It’s an innovative and deeply personal portrayal of a remarkable artist and entertainer who was, for much of the twentieth century, the most famous man in the world.

Produced by Ben Limberg, John Battsek (One Day In September, Searching for Sugar Man) and BAFTA-nominated producer Mike Brett (Notes on Blindness), Middleton and Spinney craft an exclusive and enthralling look at one of the world’s most beloved comedians.

Chasing Chaplin is a Passion Pictures, Archer’s Mark and Smaller Biggie production, in association with Fee Fie Foe.  The film also received funding by the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery, Film4 and Showtime. After receiving the Chaplin family's blessing, rights to access the extensive Chaplin film and photographic archives for the film were licensed from Roy Export, the managing entity of the Chaplin estate, and MK2, holder of the worldwide distribution rights to the Roy Export owned Chaplin films.

The film weaves together personal and creative archival sources from Chaplin’s own collection with unseen outtakes and newly unearthed audio recordings. The latter of these sources include an extraordinary four-day interview which the semi-reclusive Chaplin offered to Life magazine reporter Richard Meryman in 1966, when the star was several years into his self-imposed exile in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.

This interview forms a central thread in the film’s narrative, and has been brought to life through several dramatic renderings, in which Middleton and Spinney utilise the same lip-synching technique they developed with Notes on Blindness.

The sense of authenticity was further heightened when the production negotiated exclusive access to film these scenes at Chaplin’s World by Grévin, the Charlie Chaplin museum now housed since 2016 in the famous Manoir de Ban where Meryman and Chaplin met and where Chaplin lived for 25 years.

Incredibly, the three rooms where the interview took place were the only spaces that had been preserved, and subsequently restored, to the same level of historic grandeur that they enjoyed five decades earlier. The production design team put the finishing touches to the space by meticulously using stills taken during Meryman’s interview to replicate every detail of the rooms as they were at the time.

As directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney explain: “We experienced a kind of time travel whilst re-staging Meryman’s unique encounter with Chaplin in the same rooms that the interview was recorded half a century ago. With careful attention to detail, the cast and crew have created a vivid dramatic frame for the film, in which Chaplin tells his remarkable life story.”

Producer John Battsek says: “We are all acutely aware of the responsibility we have placed on ourselves in taking on the extraordinary story of Charlie Chaplin. With Pete and James’s approach of seamlessly blending historical and unseen footage with originally shot material we are extremely excited at the prospect of presenting a new and unique approach to the Chaplin story to a worldwide audience. ”

Beatrice de Reynies, General Director, Chaplin’s World says: “Chaplin’s World by Grévin is extremely thrilled to be part of Chasing Chaplin.   For the first time since its opening, the only museum in the world dedicated to the genius of Charlie Chaplin made the decision to close its doors to the public for eight days so that these visionary filmmakers and their outstanding and creative production team could shoot on location. Welcoming the production to the Manoir de Ban, Chaplin’s home for about 25 years, was a very emotional experience.”

Further shooting took place in locations across London, culminating in a re-staging of the infamous 1947 Monsieur Verdoux press conference, which took place as the Red Scare took hold of America, and Chaplin’s politics came under closer scrutiny.

Chasing Chaplin now heads into the edit suite, where the newly shot dramatic scenes will coalesce with a treasure trove of previously unknown material to tell Chaplin’s self-proclaimed ‘fairytale’ rags-to-riches story – as well as the darker side of the rejection he experienced at the hands of America’s political and cultural elite.




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For Cannes and International press enquiries:

Karina Gechtman, Head of International Marketing and Publicity, Altitude Film Sales

+44 (0)7729 909 633 /+44 (0)207 478 7612

For UK and Irish enquiries:

Mark Jones, Head of Publicity, Altitude Film Distribution

+44 7734 212 282


Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, and also offers SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ ON DEMAND and FLIX ON DEMAND®, and the network's authentication service SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. Showtime Digital Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNI, operates the stand-alone streaming service SHOWTIME®. SHOWTIME is currently available to subscribers via cable, DBS and telco providers, and as a stand-alone streaming service through Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, Google, Xbox One, Samsung and LG Smart TVs. Consumers can also subscribe to SHOWTIME via Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation™ Vue, Amazon Channels and FuboTV. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel™, and offers Smithsonian Earth™through SN Digital LLC. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV. For more information, go to


The Altitude Film Entertainment group comprises of the vertically integrated Altitude Film Production led by Will Clarke chairman and joint-CEO with Andy Mayson; Altitude Film Sales with Managing Director Mike Runagall; and Altitude Film Distribution with Head of Distribution Hamish Moseley.

Altitude’s sales slate includes:

Billie directed by award-winning filmmaker James Erskine and produced by Victoria Gregory and Barry Clark-Ewers; SAS: RED NOTICE directed by Magnus Marten and starring Sam Heughan; Ruby Rose; Andy Serkis; Hannah John-Kamen; Tom Hopper; Noel Clarke and Tom Wilkinson; The Power by BAFTA-nominated writer-director Corinna Faith and starring Rose Williams; Calm with Horses directed by Nick Rowland and starring Cosmo Jarvis; Barry Keoghan; Ned Dennehy and Niamh Algar; Horrible Histories the Movie: Rotten Romans directed by Dominic Brigstocke and starring Craig Roberts; Kim Cattrall; Nick Frost; Kate Nash and Sir Derek Jacobi; Black 47, directed by Lance Daly and starring Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene, which received its World Premiere Out of Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018 Girl Untitled (working title) directed by BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Sarah Gavron and starring Bukky Bakay-Odeyemi; Kosar Ali and Shaneigha Greyson; Simon Bird’s  directorial debut Days of the Bagnold Summer starring Monica Dolan; Earl Cave; Rob Brydon; Alice Lowe and Tamsin Greig; Sulphur and White directed by BAFTA-nominated Julian Jarrold and starring Mark Stanley; Emily Beecham; Anna Friel and Dougray Scott; Chaplin from BAFTA and Sundance nominated filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney; Diego Maradona; the third film from the Academy Award® and multi BAFTA-winning team led by director Asif Kapadia; Hallelujah! directed by Chris Addison and starring Academy Award® nominated Ralph Fiennes;  Beats directed by Brian Welsh and executive produced by Academy Award®-winning director Steven Soderbergh; Ghost Stories, directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman based on their international smash hit starring Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther and Paul Whitehouse; Great White directed by Martin Wilson; Carmila directed by Emily Harris; with music by Radiohead’s Philip Selway and starring Jessica Raine; Tobias Menzies and Greg Wise; Guns Akimbo directed by Jason Lei Howden and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving; Liam Gallagher: As It Was directed by Charlie Lightening and Gavin Fitzgerald; and Black Water Abyss directed by Andrew Traucki.

Since launching in 2013 Altitude Film Distribution have proudly supported talented filmmakers and given their films the dynamic and bold releases they deserve in the UK and Ireland.

To date Altitude have championed over 100 films, ranging from the Academy and BAFTA award winning Moonlight, 20 Feet From Stardom, Amy, I Am Not Your Negro and through to critically acclaimed The Florida Project, Lady Macbeth, Beast, The Rider, Whitney and more.

Altitude’s most recent release is A Private War starring Rosamund Pike as war correspondent Marie Colvin and forthcoming films include Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, Beats Sarah Gavron’s Girl Untitled film, Diego Maradona, Chaplin, Calm With Horses, Liam Gallagher: As It Was, Days of the Bagnold Summer and Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans on 26 July 2019.  Altitude also partnered with platinum selling artist Drake on the release of Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters And Men in January 2019.

Twitter @AltitudeFilms


The BFI Film Fund invests over £50 million of National Lottery funding a year into developing and supporting filmmakers with diverse, bold and distinctive films, that have a cultural relevance or progressive ideas, and which reflect people from different backgrounds, as well as a range of activities to increase the opportunities for audiences to enjoy them.

Recent titles include Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Cold War which brought Pawel Pawlikowski the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes; Wash Westmoreland’s Colette starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West about the Belle Epoque French novelist; Gabrielle Brady’s Island of the Hungry Ghosts, named best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival Special Jury Prize and BIFA Best Debut Director award-winner Ray & Liz by filmmaker Richard Billingham; Upcoming titles include Aquarela, filmed at a rare 96 frames-per-second by innovative filmmaker Victor Kossakovksy; The Last Tree from acclaimed Shola Amoo which enjoyed its World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival; and Dirty God from Berlin Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize winner Sacha Polak. 

Currently in prep, production or post are Chaplin from three-time BAFTA nominees Peter Middleton and James SpinneyCraig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty starring Oscar nominated Sally Hawkins, Alice Lowe and David Thewlis; Untitled Girls Film from award-winning director Sarah Gavron and producer Faye Ward; Philippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehaviour starring Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha Raw and Jessie Buckley; Monsoon from BAFTA and BIFA nominated filmmaker Hong Khaou and starring Henry Golding; Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet; Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s Normal People starring Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson; Sorry We Missed You from acclaimed and Cannes winning director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty; Jessica Swale’s Summerland starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw; and Tim Travers Hawkins’ eagerly awaited XY Chelsea about whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:

  • Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of world cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online
  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers investing National Lottery money into development, production, distribution, sales, export, film heritage and education
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.


Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division. Film4 develops and co-finances films and is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking, both new and established.

Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years, Academy Award®-winners such as Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary Amy, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, Chris Morris’s Four Lions, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years.

Film4’s recent releases include Stephen Merchant’s Fighting With My Family, Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, Steve McQueen’s Widows, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long, Bart Layton’s American Animals, Clio Barnard’s Dark River and Michael Pearce’s Beast. Forthcoming releases include Tom Harper’s Wild Rose, Chris Morris’s The Day Shall Come and Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona. Films in production include Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, Sarah Gavron’s ‘Untitled Girls Film’, Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses, Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s How To Build a Girl, Gregor Jordan’s Dirt Music, Ben Sharrock’s Limbo, Cathy Brady’s Wildfire, Rose Glass’s Saint Maud and Chaplin from Peter Middleton and James Spinney.

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