BY JAMES BERNICK
Three local screenwriters with Rockland County ties completed a series of screenplays and are working on an independent project all created with the purpose of bringing new and exciting films with positive energy to the big screen. Aspiring screenwriters Michael Koontz, Catherine Barbier, and Mireille Bany are SurfTeam HBX, a writing group and screenwriting company based out of Haworth, NJ. They are now working on their most recent project, a science fiction adventure, Red Space, and taking steps towards the production of their finished screen stories.
Michael Koontz offered a summary of the team’s work so far,“The plays are all considered Grated films. They are positive stories with lead characters who becomes empowered and faced with challenges ultimately transforming the circumstances of their adventure. The screenplay Divine Interest, focuses on a well meaning bank clerk. It’s a comedy with adventure and romance in which the main character is supernaturally transformed, saves his bank, and foils an evil plot to eliminate an orphanage.”
Koontz elaborated further on the trio’s current objectives, “We’re at a stage in our company of generating interest in the screenplays. SurfTeam HBX is marketing to attract production companies and producers.The objective for the screenplays is to draw attention and have them made into movies. Successful movies.They are beautifully crafted, exciting, fun, and audiences can relate to the stories and characters taking away a good feeling.
According to Koontz, the inspiration to pen a movie can be traced to his understanding in the field of energy healing, “I believe that everyone is touched by something much greater than what we know. All of our screenplays have a common theme which is that they inspire human beings to access their greatness within. That means that everyone has the ability to change and become transformed, and to take that force and do something positive with it.
That theme runs consistently through our screenplays. Koontz, who runs an interior design and renovation planning business during the day, embarked on his dream of becoming a screenwriter in 2007. He started to write treatments that he felt could develop into a story that could be made into a movie. It was a great experience.
It was through this independent project that the seeds of SurfTeam HBX were planted. In 2010, research for one of his screenplays brought Koontz to a bank where future writing partner Catherine Barbier happened to be working. Koontz said, “I met Catherine in the bank, and we talked. She is a financial consultant. I shared a great idea for a screenplay based on the subject of banking. We collaborated on a synopsis.”
Barbier described the fortuitous meeting, “I was shooting the breeze with Michael, and I decided it was a good idea. The screenplay, Divine Interest, focused around a bank which was a natural fit given my background in financial services. Overall I’m really, really happy to be part of the team.”
The third member of SurfTeam HBX, Mireille Bany, was originally recruited to edit the draft of Divine Interest. “We needed someone to do some editing, so we went to the local library searching for an editor,” explained Koontz. “She edited our first synopsis and then became a
partner in the venture.”
According to Bany, her role expanded after she was hired as an editor: “I was asked to edit a synopsis of Divine Interest, and the editing went well. I became more and more interested in the whole concept and ultimately I was asked to join the group.”
As an educator she was well-prepared for a transfer into screenwriting, both as an editor and as a professional in understanding human nature. “I was a teacher for 29 years teaching creative writing, gifted and talented students,and general studies in primary and middle school,” said Bany. “With a background in teaching you encounter many different personalities. This experience inspired me in having a sensitivity for the language of human emotion and ideas.”
At that point, Koontz, Barbier, and Bany formed a screenwriting company, SurfTeam HBX LLC. In addition to Divine Interest other stories include. A Planet Brooklyn is a heartwarming adventure about an alien from outer space who lands in Brooklyn. Through his power he helps a young man avert his conviction for a crime he is innocent of.
The alien returns to his planet. The alien and Brooklyn are changed forever. In the script, Just Psychic George O’Malley has newly revealed psychic powers which win him a lottery. He perseveres in a mission to prevent the assassination of a scientist who has a cure for world hunger. George encounters a ruthless leader, an army of assassins, and a beautiful woman in his quest to save the scientist in an adventure with drama.
A special project written by Mike Koontz and edited by Mireille Bany titled, Tattoo Zombies follows the popular zombie genre of the times. However, the screenplay offers an interesting plot focusing on the concept of tattoos becoming the subject of transformation into zombie like characters with a theme of the battle between good and evil.
SurfTeam HBX continues to develop new material and exciting screen stories. Encourages the interests of producers, and production professionals who have an interest in collaborating to create these stories into movies. “Follow your dreams and create your own adventure.”