Film writer Amanda Idoko’s dark comedy Breaking News in Yuba County premieres on February 12. The Knockturnal spoke with the film writer about the project, its journey, and her advocacy for Black voices and representation in the industry.
The Knockturnal: Breaking News In Yuba County covers so many genres in one body of work. As the writer of the film, how would you describe the genre of the film?
Amanda Idoko: I would describe it as a dark comedic crime comedy.
The Knockturnal: What was the inspiration behind this project?
Amanda Idoko: So this was the first feature I wrote and I knew going into it that I wanted to write something in this specific genre because I have always loved dark comedies. I’m a huge fan of the Coen brothers and Burn After Reading is one of my favorite movies so it was very intentional in wanting to hit that tone and I also really love ensembles. I wanted to create this world where this one woman’s actions kind of spiraled into chaos and sends a ripple effect throughout her town
The Knockturnal: What was it like for you to be able to see the project go from script to filming to now being released?
Amanda Idoko: It’s been so surreal this journey and to have something that I thought up in my head something that I wrote to have it now be something people will see next week and will live on. I am just so blown away. I just remember being on set and hearing the actors say words that I wrote. It was like a dream come true to have all this happen. It’s been such an exciting journey.
The Knockturnal: What was the greatest challenge with writing Breaking News In Yuba County?
Amanda Idoko: I mean this a few years ago for me it was such a fun story for me and I think that maybe the times of getting caught up in I know with every path I would try to go back and look at every character, specifically the character path, the emotional path, and make sure it was deepening the story. But, this was a really fun script to write. It made me laugh and I’m just excited for people to get a chance to see it.
The Knockturnal: Affirmations play a large role in the film. What motivated you to include that within the development of the story?
Amanda Idoko: I just found it very relatable this feeling of not feeling seen, of wanting to be recognized and feeling invisible and having to talk up and remind yourself of your self-worth. And so once I figured out the affirmations because I think the affirmations helped me to go “Oh I know who this woman is.” I am definitely someone who has the affirmations and has to talk myself up so it was easy for me to translate that over to her.
The Knockturnal: There is great comedic timing. How were you able to develop that not just in the script but with the actors as well?
Amanda Idoko: I think Kate was really great with working with the actors. I think the actors are all so amazing. So, having them be able to do it was such a fun set such a female playful environment. You really let them go in and have fun with it and that was able to bring it all. I also love comedy, I love to laugh, I love making people laugh, I was a college improv kid so I definitely wanted to create something that was really fun and would make people laugh.
The Knockturnal: What was it like being able to work with Regina Hall, Mila Kunis, and Allison Janey all in one film?
Amanda Idoko: It was surreal. It was amazing. I feel like my jaw dropped after every casting announcement came out. It is super epic and extraordinary to have your movie be made but then to have it made with such amazing talents I just couldn’t believe it I was so blown away. I just remember being on set just the first day of shooting and the first thing we shot was the grocery store scene and seeing Alison Janey say my words, I was just like “Oh my goodness I will never forget this moment.” Watching Wanda, everything she says is funny, but seeing her saying jokes that I wrote, I am going to treasure this for the rest of my life.
The Knockturnal: You are vocal online about social justice issues, especially with highlighting issues that are impacting the Black community. How have you been able to incorporate this into your work as a screenwriter?
Amanda Idoko: I think that with everything I’m doing I just want to have more Black voices and Black representation on screen and more Black voices behind the scenes I think that moving with the campaigns that I’m doing it’s always about getting more people in the room and getting more voices in the room because you don’t want to be the only Black writer in the room. There are so many different stories, we aren’t a monolith so being able to tell different stories around this perspective has been really exciting for me as a writer.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope viewers will gain from watching Breaking News in Yuba County?
Amanda Idoko: I think honestly I want them to have a good time so if they’re laughing, if they’re like it’s a fun movie, going through that would be something that I would be happy about and also on the media side of it just thinking about how sometimes humanity can be stripped out of a story and how it is today’s obsession with getting a story and not seeing the real-life people who are behind these stories and just thinking about that.