“The Ballad of Han and Leia” was written by Kevin Packard and Jesse Anderegg, the founders of the Mt. Juliet-based music group Checkpoint Charley, almost 20 years ago when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on the silver screen.
On Wednesday, it got a long-awaited music video that coincides with the recent release of the newest Star Wars movie, as well as the group’s album, “Pomp, Twaddle and Bombast.”
The group started an Indiegogo campaign to fund the second half of the album, and reached their goal Dec. 10. As a bonus for the people who donated, they filmed the music video and released a four-song EP titled, “Checkpoint Charley’s Great Jedi Mind Trick.”
The video, filmed entirely in Mt. Juliet, features Packard and Anderegg, both dressed as Han Solo, singing a love song to Princess Leia, played by Packard’s real-life wife, Emily. The video also features three children Jedi, played by Packard’s children, Josie, Donny and Rori.
“We really wanted this video to tie in with the kids being the heroes in the end,” said Packard. “You know, at the end they defeat the Sith Lord, and then there’s a parade after. The video was a lot of fun and being able to do it with family was really special.”
The special effects of the video really stand out, as drummers, dressed as various Star Wars characters, play the drums with light sabers. Packard said this was accomplished with some help from the cosplay community, as well as a Franklin teenager.
“I was telling Ashley Wolfe about the idea – she’s an actor in Nashville – and she said, ‘you know cosplayers are really into Star Wars,’” said Packard. “So we reached out to some people in that community, and they showed up to our video shoot without us ever having met them.”
Bryson Sams, a 17-year-old filmmaker who, ironically, got his start in film making a Star Wars fan video, did all the special effects.
“I didn’t call it filmmaking at the time,” said Sams. “Me and my friends made a Star Wars fan film, and everything stemmed from that. I didn’t realize I wanted to do it for a living until I was a freshman in high school.”
Packard said once they told Sams about the vision they had for their music video and heard some of his ideas, they knew he was the person for the job.
“He came in and told us about what he wanted for the video, and all of the sudden it became this super-ambitious project,” said Packard. “We were working through the night to get it done.”
The video’s climax features a scene at the Mt. Juliet Christmas Parade that apparently wasn’t originally planned.
“We found out that a Cub Scout troop had a float in the Mt. Juliet parade, and we were like, ‘That’s awesome. A Star Wars float, what’s cooler than that?’” said Packard.
Sams filmed the parade scenes with a drone and added them on to the end of the video, which is now up on YouTube.
“The video turned out great,” said Sams. “I think it fit the song perfect.”
For more information on Checkpoint Charley, visit the group’s website at checkpointcharley.rocks. To see more videos shot and edited by Sams, including more Star Wars fan videos, visit his YouTube channel at CyanLegacy.
By Jacob Smith