The Stepmom short film

The Stepmom

A short film set in Dublin, adapted from an award-winning Canadian play

Written by Keara Barnes  |  Directed by Theo Kim

Filming Spring 2021

Our team is currently running a fundraising campaign for the film until March 17th. 

View the campaign and watch the film’s trailer HERE

The Story

In The Stepmom we meet the character of Saoirse, a young Canadian woman who, grieving the recent death of her mother, moves to Ireland to reconnect with her roots. 

There, she falls in love and finds herself in the unexpected position of stepmother. The film follows her burgeoning relationship with the young girl, compounded by her antagonistic mother. 

When the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself in Canada, Saoirse must choose between family life abroad or pursuing her dreams back home. 

A story about love, about losing and finding motherhood, and about living abroad…with some Irish craic thrown in for good measure.

The Play’s History

The Stepmom short film is adapted from an award-winning one-woman show, Almost a Stepmom

Featuring one woman playing six characters, Almost a Stepmom debuted in the 2015 Victoria Fringe Festival to critical acclaim. It was then chosen from dozens of entries to headline the 2016 Shift One Act Play Festival and subsequently toured to the 2016 Calgary Fringe Festival, where it was named one of the top five shows in the festival, and won the Jester’s Cap Award. 

In 2017 the play enjoyed a sold-out run at the Vancouver Celticfest followed by a sold-out run later that year at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. The show has been performed in schools, pubs and theatres throughout Western Canada. 

“If this show isn’t already on your Fringe list, make room for it” 

– The Marble Victoria

“Her story is compelling and the storytelling funny, dramatic and sympathetic” 

-Vancouver Sun

“Almost a Stepmom is a powerful look at a life that could have been. It’s also a show that you don’t want to miss.” 

-James Hutchison

The Film’s Future

The screenplay for this Canadian/Irish story has been in development for over two years. The team is slated to begin filming in Spring 2021 over the course of three days in Vancouver, in tandem with a filmmaker in Dublin. The film has been fully cast and locations have been confirmed. Following post-production, we have an extensive film festival submission plan in place. The goal is for widespread distribution and international screenings.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for production updates!

The Impact

The film explores one of the most complex universal subjects there is: motherhood, and how it can be both lost and found. Through the lens of a young female faced with two futures, it delves into the topics of grief, addiction, and the heartache of living abroad. During a time when many of us are separated from our families and faced with life-changing decisions, The Stepmom is a touching coming-of-age story that exemplifies the healing power of love, forgiveness and creativity.

The Filmmaking Team

Theo Kim  ~  Director

After graduating from VFS Film Production in 2011, Theo Kim formed TGK Films. Since then, his projects have generated more than 35 million views on YouTube alone. Kim has also produced and directed many features, shorts, music videos, and corporate videos. His first feature film Beyond the Redemption, which he co-produced, is currently on Netflix, VOD, Amazon and Walmart.

 Woodland, the second feature he co-produced, premiered at the Whistler Film Festival in 2018, and at the 2019 Newport Film Festival in the U.S. The film is currently distributed by MPX. 

Kim co-produced and directed the webseries Letterkenny Problems (2013), which is now streaming on Crave TV. He is also the digital/2nd unit director on Letterkenny. In 2019, Kim directed the Telus Original comedy Paper Champions, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

He wrote and directed a short superhero comedy #Yellowman, which won second place at the 2014 Vancouver Asian Film Festival. Kim also directed a short drama about Canada’s medical assistance in dying program called And Now This? (2019) and the LGBTQ+ dramatic short Falling In (2020).

Kim produced three Telus/Storyhive shorts in 2018: The Day We Met, Karaoke Mamas, and Gong Ju. He also co-produced the 2019 Whistler Film Festival/MPPIA short film B-Side

Other producer credits include the Crazy 8s short films Gemini (2018) and Parabola (2019). Kim’s next big project will be directing his first sci-fi drama feature film in 2021.

Brenda Whitehall  ~  Producer

Brenda Whitehall is an award-winning, independent filmmaker based in Vancouver, Canada. Her production company Whitehall Entertainment Incorporated has spearheaded several projects including short films, animations, music videos and documentaries.

Whitehall also created and co-produced a popular all-women mainstage play at the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival called Saturn Returns, receiving public and critical acclaim.

In 2017, Whitehall co-wrote and executive produced the short drama The Curtain, which screened in seven countries, in four languages, and won more than a dozen awards at international film festivals.

The following year, she wrote, directed and executive produced the award-winning short drama Little Oliver, which is currently on the international film festival circuit, and screened at the Mediterranean Film Festival in Cannes, France.

In 2019, Whitehall wrote and executive produced a groundbreaking, award-winning short drama And Now This? about Canada’s medical assistance in dying program. It was nominated for Best Short Drama and Best Director at the 2020 Vancouver Asian Film Festival.

She also wrote, produced and directed a music video “Meant for Something More” to raise awareness of trans teen suicide, airing on OutTV and available on YouTube. It was released on “Transgender Day of Remembrance” on November 20, 2019.

Besides producing her own projects, Whitehall has co-produced several short films by other writers, including Christine Lippa’s Squeak!!, Danielle Braund and Meeshelle Neal’s Falling In, and the upcoming short drama The Stepmom by Keara Barnes.

Whitehall has several projects in development, including Rebecca’s Ring, an Irish romantic comedy, optioned by British-Canadian, Oscar-nominated director Jonathan Tammuz; and a Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics documentary webseries, Beyond the Podium, featuring Canadian women champions.

Keara Barnes  ~  Writer, Producer, Actor

Keara Barnes is an award-winning actor/writer/producer from Vancouver, B.C. She holds a BFA in Theatre from The University of Victoria and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York.

Keara is the writer/producer of several short films:  Livefeed (Winner: Scariest Film, Blood n Guts Film Competition) and A Midwinter Nightmare (WINNER: Award of Distinction , Canada Shorts). She is also the creator /performer behind two acclaimed one-woman shows (Almost a Stepmom & TravelTheatrics) that have toured fringe and theatre festivals across Western Canada.

Keara is also a published writer, a professional voice over artist, and the Director of Sponsorship & Development at the Vancouver Horror Show Film Festival.

Juliana  Bergstrom ~ Associate Producer

Juliana is an actor, dancer, and writer. Her performance credits include dancing aboard Norwegian cruise lines from Europe to Antarctica, Disneyland park in Anaheim, and acting in several local indie films and theatre shows. She’s a copywriter for a Vancouver-based yoga-wear company and is currently developing a pilot for a dance-themed web series.


The Cast

Emma Johnson ~ Saoirse

Emma Johnson holds a BFA from the University of British Columbia’s acting program. Select film and television credits include The Arrangement, The Detour, The Magicians, and co-lead of Hallmark’s Beverly Hills Wedding, which airs this February. She currently resides in Vancouver.



Hazel Bartlett-Sias ~ Aoife

Hazel is 10 years old and has been acting for almost 3 years. She started her acting journey off with a bang by filming more than a dozen commercials in less than 2 years. Other highlights include appearances in the 2019 Blood and Guts Festival and a production of ‘Shrek the Musical’ as well as earning her green belt in Seikido, for which she is very proud. When not studying acting Hazel loves drawing, martial arts, charades, and dance parties in the kitchen. Hazel is beyond thrilled to be part of The Stepmom family and playing the role of Aoife.


Éanna O’Dowd ~ Aidan

Born in Galway, Ireland. Éanna is an actor, acting coach, and co-founder of Untold Wants Theatre Inc. His on-screen credits include: Cherry, LIMETOWN, The 100, Salvation, A Series of Unfortunate Events,  DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Exorcist, Stitches, and Black Ice. He also has an extensive list of theatre credits: Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph, The Human Ear by Alexandra Wood, Reasons to Be Pretty by, Neil LaBute with Untold Wants Theatre, and national tours of Vernon God Little adapted by Tanya Rodner and The Dead School by Patrick MacCabe with Decadent Theatre, to name a few. He has also attained an Batchelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Acting and performance, from the IT Sligo, and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, respectively.

Tamara McCarthy ~ Maeve

Tamara is a professional  stage director, actor, and producer. A multiple Jessie Richardson Award nominated director and actor, she has most recently appeared in the world premieres of With Glowing Hearts (TheatreOne) and HELLO (Theatre Terrific/ Firehall). She has played featured roles in a handful of short films and is stoked about The Stepmom. Other theatrical favourites include TBD (radix); Inside the Seed (upintheair); The Hobbit, Peter Pan (Carousel).

Select directing credits include The Double Axe Murders remount tour (Rusticate/ Gateway/Evergreen); Julius Caesar (Greater Victoria Shakespeare Fest); A Brief History of Human Extinction (The Cultch/ upintheair); Into the Woods (Vancouver Island University); The Out Vigil (Theatre Newfoundland Labrador); The Sea; A Doll’s House (Slamming Door); Gruesome Playground Injuries (Dark Matter); Between the Sheets; Reasons to be Pretty (Western Edge); James and the Giant Peach (Chemainus Theatre Festival). Tamara is a Producer of The Fox Queen, Rusticate Theatre, and Slamming Door Collective, and the Associate Artistic Producer for the Nanaimo Fringe Festival.

Eric O’Connor ~ Seamus

This Irish native, who hails from Cork City, brings with him his great sense of comedic timing that is as natural as running water in all Irish people.

He has performed in many productions for the Metro Theatre in Vancouver since the 90’s, celebrated Vancouver Celticfest with a travelling production of “The Weir” back in 2015 and most recently branched into film with the Vancouver Film School in 2018 with a production called “Sisyphus Stairwell”. Eric is delighted to bring his comedic talents to “The Stepmom” and looks forward to bringing the story to life.

Charleen Phelps ~ Mary

Charleen Phelps is a screenwriter, playwright, actor, director, producer and speaker. The years spent as a registered nurse in the areas of Mental Health and Geriatric care  has influenced much of her work. Recent writing credits include the plays “Emerge” and A “Gems Journey.”  Acting credits include the films; “I Miss you Margaret”, “Thank You Mila” and “Seven Stages of my Broken Heart.”

Her short film “Remnants” is in pre-production with her company Wings of the Wind Productions. Charleen is very much looking forward to playing the part of Mary and working with the fantastic team in the short film “The Stepmom.”