A crew shoots part of the movie “ECCO” at Jenne Farm in Coupeville. The film was written and directed by Ben Medina, who was born on Whidbey Island. The spy thriller is set to release Aug. 9. Photo provided

A crew shoots part of the movie “ECCO” at Jenne Farm in Coupeville. The film was written and directed by Ben Medina, who was born on Whidbey Island. The spy thriller is set to release Aug. 9. Photo provided

Coupeville native bringing movie to life in birthplace

As film screenwriter and director Ben Medina set out to bring his dream of making a movie to life, he knew he’d return to where his own story began.

“It was very important to me to put my birthplace in the film as a way to express artistic creation,” he said.

”In the back of my mind, I was always planning to put Coupeville in the movie,” he added.

Medina’s feature film debut, “ECCO,” will be released Friday, Aug. 9. The director shot his spy thriller in a number of Western Washington locations, including the Jenne Farm in Coupeville. The filmmaker had been living and working in Los Angeles, but he’d discovered the historic Central Whidbey farmstead a few years ago and kept it in his mind as a future filming location, Medina said.

He only lived on Whidbey Island until he was 5 years old. After several moves, he and his family landed in Port Townsend when he was around 11 years old. However, his best friend lived in Mount Vernon, so he spent many hours driving through the island and historic town to meet up, Medina said. When it came time to write and direct his own project, he already knew exactly how he’d shoot the Whidbey scenes, he said.

Medina’s early passion for photography and acting collided into what felt like a “calling” toward filmmaking, he said. He’d been in high school plays and went to college for acting school. When he was 22, he shot a short film about a boxer, and it completely shifted his career trajectory.

“It just flipped a switch for me,” Medina said of the short film.

He describes his first feature, which will soon be released nationwide, as a “slow-burn” thriller. It portrays a former assassin who has left his old life and fallen in love; he and his wife are expecting a child. The main character, Michael, attempts to save his new life after his former employer’s return.

Medina said the action scenes are intense but aren’t necessarily central to the film.

“At the end of the day, it really is a love story,” he said.

Seeing his dream come to fruition didn’t come without its challenges. Medina is an experienced commercial director, but there was still a learning curve on keeping the 12-to-14-hour shooting days running smoothly and on-schedule, he said. And he learned the importance of knowing what can and can’t be controlled.

He’s still learning that lesson as he anxiously awaits the film’s release, he said.

“You have to emotionally prepare yourself for letting go,” Medina said. “… You’ve been holding onto the reins of something for so long and so tightly, and you have to let it go.”

“ECCO” premieres at 7 p.m.,Aug. 9, at the Rose Theater, Port Townsend and later in theaters nationwide.

More in Life

WICA brings ‘SEX’ to stage

In a month when spunky spirits are said to roam the earth,… Continue reading

Haunted Fort Casey ready to welcome thrill seekers

Fort Casey evokes images in the mind’s eye of sweeping views of… Continue reading

Farm preserves salt-making tradition

“We grow edible flowers, and we harvest salt from the cove.” Kim… Continue reading

Pumpkins roll and the dead rise for Coupeville’s annual Haunting

Coupeville’s Halloween spirit is in full force, with the annual descending of… Continue reading

Art & About | Whidbey Island’s October art events

Here’s what’s happening in the Whidbey arts scene

At 72, mechanic still loves getting hands greasy

A retired journalist in Central Whidbey (me) is befuddled when he has… Continue reading

Members of K-9 Korps place at State Fair

At the Washington State 4-H Fair in Puyallup in September, the youth… Continue reading

4-H hosting Rally Day

Events for Oct. 6 include a chance to pet animals, sign up for club

Doors open to faith center, fulfilling a 20-year dream

Mission Ministry Faith Center has new buildings and parking lot

Whidbey Island Grown Week grows with the flow

If there’s one thing that brings north and south islanders together every… Continue reading

Eli Adadow from Ancient Earth School of Natural Building, to teach workshop on building clay ovens at the South Whidbey Harvest Festival Oct. 3 and 4. Photo by Wendy Leigh/South Whidbey Record.
Harvest Festival: ‘Fall into Knowledge’

Like most things on Whidbey, the new Whidbey Island Harvest Festival on… Continue reading

Skilled sewing to be on display at Senior Bees quilt show

Oak Harbor Senior Center artists create quilts for the community