29 June,2021, London, UK – Altitude Factual and BirdDog Media have joined forces to produce CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, a 13 x 30 minute series on unique relationships between people and animals in their natural habitats around the world.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS reveals the journeys of extraordinary individuals who have put their hearts, minds and energies into developing connections with animals in the wild – from dolphins to platypus, sharks to dugongs, pangolins and bears.

One on one, they’ve discovered things about the way that animals feel and think that science has yet to fully understand. And these wildlife encounters have often changed the courses of their lives.

This leading edge series also brings to light the surprising opportunities for inter-species communication on our own planet, without having to look to the stars in the hope of making contact.

Executive Produced by Paul Sowerbutts (Head of Altitude Factual) and Clark Bunting (Executive Chair, BirdDog Media Ventures) and produced by Stephen Ellis (President & CEO, BirdDog Media ventures) and Jeremy Bradshaw (Head of Natural History for Altitude Factual) this new series will break new ground in character-led wildlife production.

Filming on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS will commence in Autumn 2021.

Paul Sowerbutts, Head of Altitude Factual commented, “This series takes a very fresh look at truly close, intimate relationships between humans and wild animals and has very high quality natural history filming.  We know the global audience has a desire to explore a closer contact with nature and this series will take them there in locations across the planet.”

Stephen Ellis, President of BirdDog Media, observed, “We’re delighted to be teaming up with our long time industry colleagues at Altitude Factual to create a next level audience experience at a time of re-kindling relationships post pandemic.”

Stephen Ellis, President of BirdDog Media


Altitude Media Group is the independent UK based studio led by Will Clarke chairman and joint-CEO with Andy Mayson, comprising of Altitude Film Production, Altitude Film Sales with Managing Director Mike Runagall, Altitude Film Distribution with Managing Director Hamish Moseley, Altitude Factual with Managing Director Paul Sowerbutts and Altitude Television.  In 2020 US based investment group 30WEST took a significant minority stake in the group.

Launched in 2020, Altitude Factual creates long-running television series and feature-length programming focusing on the natural and human worlds.  Altitude Factual recently announced its first project, THE YEAR THAT CHANGED BRITAIN, Kevin Macdonald’s frontline chronicle of the UK’s response to the COVID pandemic for ITV.  Continuing on from Altitude’s successes including AMY, DIEGO MARADONA, ERIC CLAPTON: LIFE IN 12 BARS AND LIAM GALLAGHER: AS IT WAS, Altitude Factual is also exploring compelling stories about cultural icons.


BirdDog Media Ventures is the Canadian-based indie production house launched in 2019 by two of North America’s factual content veterans, Stephen Ellis and Clark Bunting.  Ellis is best known for the output and global distribution of Ellis Entertainment for over 25 years, and as an award-winning thought leader in the Canadian production industry, serving as a past chair of the Canadian Media Producers Association and co-founder and Chair of the Canadian Retransmission Collective. 

Clark Bunting’s storied career with Discovery Communications from its earliest days included roles as President & GM of Discovery Channel, founding President & GM of Animal Planet, President of Discovery Studios, and responsibility for the portfolio of Emerging Networks, including Investigation Discovery and Science Channel.  Under his leadership some of the Discovery Networks most memorable and critically-acclaimed series were launched, and attracted Emmy Awards, Dupont and Peabody Awards, and an Oscar.