When a film shoot is hampered by a shortage of personnel, filmmaking becomes both a creative art and a tricky task. Yet for actor Deanna Rashell (Government Lies), she’s turned the tricky high-wire act of being both a performer and craftsperson on the same project into high art with her new comedy web series, The Granny Diaries. Within that project, Rashell is its main actor, writer, producer, director, editor, cinematographer, sound recordist and set designer.

With 7 episodes available on Facebook and YouTube (links below), The Granny Diaries stars Rashell as the title character – an outspoken, opinionated, occasionally obscene yet constantly hilarious grandmother a la Tyler Perry’s iconic Madea. Rashell also plays a wide variety of wacky characters (a tarot card reader, a doctor who suspects Granny’s been infected with COVID-19, her diabolical twin sibling, her loving yet often nagging granddaughter & even and Asian nail lady) that make Granny’s life as wacky as it is interesting.

Among Granny‘s episodes are three holiday-themed shows (“Trick Or Treat?”, “Granny’s Thanksgiving Day Surprise!”, “Granny’s Christmas Special – InstaMAN”), and while Rashell launched production of the series with what would later be its fourth streamed episode (the Christmas special), the role of Granny was one that the veteran actor sought to portray long before The Granny Diaries made its debut.

Actor/filmmaker Deanna Rashell plays - among many characters - an uncouth grandmother in her one-woman comedy series THE GRANNY DIARIES.

Actor/filmmaker Deanna Rashell plays – among many characters – an uncouth yet hilarious grandmother in her one-woman comedy series THE GRANNY DIARIES.

“I always wanted to create Granny,” explains Rashell. “I did it (the character) for an audition a long time ago. I didn’t get that part but I was inspired to create that character after that audition.”

Though all of the personalities Rashell has created for The Granny Diaries are based on an eclectic group of sources, the series’ uncouth yet lovable protagonist was inspired by Rashell’s memories of her own beloved grandparent – but with a difference.

“My sister says Granny reminds her of our Grandma. I guess, in a way, she is. My Grandma was a bit feisty as was my other Grandma on my mom’s side, but neither of them were Southern.”

While attending an actors’ training seminar in Los Angeles last year, Rashell was inspired to take on the myriad of characters and off-camera positions required for Granny after seeing how other performers who appeared at that seminar managed to pull off their own one-person projects successfully. In fact, making the show on her own was both a matter of practicality and a means of getting each episode produced in a quicker fashion.

“After the Thanksgiving episode (filmed in 2019) where I used a few different actors, I realized it would be more time efficient with my schedule & more challenging for me to play all of the characters – though I do still plan to bring other (actors) on future episodes,” she adds.

In a year where there has been very little to laugh about, doing comedy can be as challenging as it is cathartic. As Rashell began shooting Granny’s coronavirus-themed episode during the pandemic’s first wave, she had to overcome her own emotional doldrums in order to create something that would – albeit temporarily – give audiences a break from the devastating health emergency that has defined 2020.

Rashell also plays a door-to-door doctor in the coronavirus-themed episode of THE GRANNY DIARIES.

In addition to portraying the show’s title character, Rashell also plays a door-to-door doctor in the coronavirus-themed episode of THE GRANNY DIARIES.

“…I, like others, was feeling tired and down and not really creative. I was worried about our world and I really had to push myself to create (“Quarantine Pranks”, Granny’s fifth episode). It was my longest one, coming in at 5 minutes, and probably the most rewarding one,” remembers Rashell. “I had to really grab myself by the scruff of my neck and bring myself (to be) upbeat. I wanted to make people laugh. All of my social media feeds were so depressing and I wanted to snap people out of it for a few minutes and bring the world some joy.”

On the set, Rashell learned that while playing every role on and off-camera involves as much skill as it does patience, getting the job done on camera definitely isn’t easy.

“(On) the first (episode) I had to do a full re-shoot because I tried auto focus, then I found a workaround for that,” she remembers. “On the last episode, I used my new much more advanced camera and (the) app on my phone to operate it so that was really nice, but some of it was out of focus because I was literally learning to use the app and camera while I was shooting.”

Luckily, Rashell – whose experiences in self-taping auditions & studying various areas of filmmaking proved to be tremendous assets when she filmed her scenes for The Granny Diaries – figured out how to make the otherwise unpredictable equipment she used to shoot each episode work for her. In the future, though, Rashell does plan to use one important production tool for all of her scenes: “Next time, I’ll get a monitor so I can watch the playback and do less takes.”

Once the cameras, lights, makeup and wardrobe were put away after filming each episode, an even tougher part of The Granny Diaries’ production awaited Rashell: a trip to the cutting room. “I edit (the episodes) too and that is really the most time-consuming (part of the production process) for me,” says Rashell. “I’m self-taught in everything so I may not be editing it in the most time-efficient way but I’m meticulous and really care about the details.”

While being a one-woman band on the set of The Granny Diaries doesn’t come without the occasional trouble spots, Rashell believes that the rewards of being one’s own cast and crew can exceed the mishaps. “Doing it all can be stressful but you just have to remind yourself that this is supposed to be fun and (to) then just have fun with it. I won’t deny (it); there are sometimes several F-bombs dropped in the making of (the series).”

Screen Shot 2020-11-18 at 10.55.49 PMCreative independence is another advantage that Rashell gets from doing it all herself on The Granny Diaries. “I can (film the series) on my own schedule,” she adds. “…I don’t need to rely on anyone and I can move through things pretty fast, though having a dedicated DP (director of photography) would really speed things up.”

However, Rashell also hopes to find a dedicated group of filmmakers who’ll buy into her vision for The Granny Diaries when the show’s production resumes. “I really like positive energy and I would rather do something by myself rather than have someone on my team who isn’t 100% into it and who doesn’t really enjoy it. Eventually I will find a small team so we can knock these (episodes) out in 5 hours, and then we can put out a lot of content.”

Even though The Granny Diaries’ style of humor is frequently on the coarse side, Rashell feels it’s a comedy that has multi-generational appeal. “I feel like Granny really can appeal to a wide range of people,” Rashell comments. “I don’t think you need to be old or young but probably in the 20-70 age range. I think if you like comedy, you will like The Granny Diaries.” Overall, Rashell has two simple yet important goals for the show’s success: “I hope they (audiences) laugh out loud! I hope they feel inspired to share (the episodes) with others!”

Watch all episodes of The Granny Diaries on the show’s Facebook page:


YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmGhxEjKEzqzupO2SXS1oWVTJBS6yOizA

ON THE WEB: http://outlookproductions.net/Granny_Diaries