“Pure Magic” is a short film written by, produced by, and starring RespectAbility Lab alumnus John Lawson. The short was created for this year’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, in which filmmakers have five days to write and produce a three to five minute short based on a centralizing theme. This year’s focus was romance, and “Pure Magic” certainly delivered on this theme.
The short film opens with Lawson and his character’s wife walking in a park. Lawson yells at a child, “careful Taylor!” His wife says, “oh, that’s not our Taylor, sweetheart.” The subsequent conversation establishes that Lawson has Alzheimer’s. We later see a street magician performing a card trick to a skeptical patron, who says “there’s no magic.” When she picks a card, rather than finding the card, another man starts to play piano. Lawson’s character hears the music and starts to sing a song about his relationship with his wife. The song’s lyrics include the lines “memories fade but feelings remain. You’ve always been there through joy and through pain.”
Lawson said that “it was such a pleasure to work with screenwriter, Mickey Fisher, and the music team led by lyricist, Melissa Axel, to produce a musical about romance. Having known people who have dealt with the effects of early on-set Alzheimer’s in relationship partners, it added an interesting perspective for two people remembering the romance in a relationship long-lived.”
Though the short is only six minutes long (with credits), I was still tearing up by the end. I am confident that anyone who has an older relative who is losing their memory will be moved by this short film. I would love to see what Lawson and his team could do with this story if they were given more time – both more runtime and more time to produce the film.
Lawson, who served as a writer, producer, and editor, as well as lead actor, of “Pure Magic,” has been an active member of the disability community after becoming an amputee in 1987. He is a 2019 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab alumnus, who also has served as a mentor for every cohort of the Lab since.