I watched MediaStorm’s “The Amazing Amy” twice: once to capture Amy’s story, and once more to study the impact some of the the shots had on the message viewers took away.
The film opens with a close-up portrait shot as she describes her feelings about contortionism, then zooms away to reveal the cluttered background. Where this is, we don’t yet know.
The setting changes to a long shot in a rather ordinary office setting, yet Amy is wearing a unique outfit and bending her body in extraordinary ways. We first start to see others acknowledging Amy as an outsider when a man walks into the room, doesn’t know how to acknowledge or approach her, and continues by moving around her and walking toward the camera.
In the next sequence, we return to the cluttered background, zoomed out, and we conclude it’s her home after the shot changes to a room with a refrigerator. A cat is also in the picture, and the next shot switches to a medium shot with her cat. The footage, combined with the dialogue detailing her love of cats, makes us realize she’s the ultimate “cat lady.”
The New York footage that follows, going from the dirty streets to the artistic district, mirrors her change from negative to positive intonation. The scene then flashes to her apartment, in which she proceeds to talk about books and her artistic beginning. When she switches to talking about her body, the shots become of her working now, and you can begin to see the wear on her body these years of contorting have caused.
We then see Amy in action, performing as a Jedi in a small New York City theater. Her movements and humorous comments gather meager applause and laughter. She then explains in a portrait shot it’s the only way she feels people will love her. The mood turns somber, and the shot zooms out as she explains her father didn’t think she had a real job, just as a still of her in a fluffy coat on stage flashes onto the screen.
She continues to talk about her depression through the first half of a somber video clip with cool colors. The second half is silent with sad music in the background, allowing for a good transition to her bulimic history. The filmmaker then gets a close-up of her sucking on something while she talked about living on wafers for years. A shot of her repeatedly bending down and up goes nicely with her acknowledgements of being obsessive-compulsive and having an addictive personality.
The portrait shots that follow show her being more dramatic, and the ones following, in my opinion, start to emphasize the problems that she has previously revealed. She stretches over and over and revels in the excitement of being onstage. You then see a clip of her performance, varying between long and medium shots. We can tell she’s happy.
After the show, she begins undressing, then catches the attention of another who walks in the room. Though Amy tries to carry on a conversation, the other woman rushes out of the room. This is an example of her social disconnect she previously discussed, providing a perfect transition to the next shots of her standing alone, the voiceover detailing her lack of a social circle. The shot filmed behind the wall of her next to the refrigerator, I think, is especially eye-catching — it’s almost like we’re spying on her and we can see she’s alone. The shot then jumps to a close-up of her somber face. When the topic returns to dance, we can almost see the drive in her facial expressions as she stretches. Dance is her connection to the outside world, and she is determined to hold onto that at age 56.
Portrait shots and shots of her in shadow alone in her house follow as she talks about her fear of being alone. The filming ends with a shot of her head and shoulders, and we can not only hear the fear, but can practically see it in her eyes. An outro of haunting piano notes ensues.
All in all, I think the filmmaker did an excellent job of matching the film clips with the audio and still photos to create a representation of Amy. I’ll remember the techniques this filmmaker uses as I create my own short video of MU’s OFFICIAL dance team.