September 2021 Newsletter
  • The Global Release of our Film
  • Promotional Campaign
  • The Bakelite Quiz
  • Welcome New Team Member
  • In Development
  • The Story of Bakelite
  • Reflections

Our award-winning documentary about inventor Leo H. Baekeland, had its official public release on June 29. The 59-minute film is now available on iTunes, Apple TV+, Google Play, YouTube, and VUDU (domestic) in more than 100 countries and territories. To appeal to these international markets, we created versions with Chinese, French, German and Spanish subtitles, as well as English closed captioning.
Special thanks to Toby Welles of Design Core & WowHouse for creating the logos and
Terry Laslo of Wingcat Web Design for final touches.

We often paraphrase Orson Welles’ famous line by saying: Making a film is easy compared with trying to sell it!
Connecting our film with the right audiences has been a challenge. We approached this task two-fold. First, through grassroots marketing, local/regional press outreach, website (which included our 2-disc DVD box-set purchase page), social media, and film festivals. Second, through private screenings before select groups of professionals, academia, associations, symposia, conferences, libraries, historical societies, and the like.

Then this Spring, we completed a two-year run on U.S. public television stations where over 500 telecasts increased interest even more. That success fueled our belief that a global, general audience was ready for the film; hence, our recent release on streaming platforms worldwide. But that has meant mounting a complex, coordinated promotional campaign. Our existing team created some valuable assets, but we needed to engage additional professionals, among them: AJ Feuerman Communications, Amy Prenner, and Vanquish Media Group based in Los Angeles, CA, and Post Road Consulting in Westport, CT.

They helped develop the strategy, design, messaging, and channel definition we needed to reach the public domestically and internationally. Below are some of the initiatives taken.
New Press Releases
Click the links to view

New Trailer!
Vanquish Media Group produced a new 20 second trailer for the film.
Film Reviews
“Amazing”… “Fascinating”… “Wonderful”… These are some of the things film critics have been saying. The international and domestic PR team of AJ and Amy brought the film to the attention of thousands of publications and film pundits for critique and publicity. Some notables are linked here.
It's encouraging know a niche film such as ours can garner such praise from professionals with significant public followings. That can only help raise awareness of the important messages and goals our film was made to deliver on a more global scale.  
Media Appearances
Executive producer Hugh Karraker and director John Maher have been making the rounds on radio, television, video podcasts and in numerous published interviews, mostly through Zoom. These have been disseminated through various media outlets all around the world. Check out some of the more influential appearances here.

Thank you AJ, Amy and Vanquish, for introducing our film to the general public on a broader level.

Another key element in building buzz around the film is through our LinkedIn profile, The L.H. Baekeland Project, LLC.

We were inspired to create the profile after reading Sandra Long’s eye-opening new book, LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She helped us with strategies and tips on how to raise our profile and become a hub of information, activity and interaction for everyone interested in Leo Baekeland, Bakelite and plastics issues of the day. All this is to further our goals to educate, inspire, and advocate for the responsible manufacture and use of plastic. Please connect with us on LinkedIn.

Many thanks to Sandra, and the PRC Team for building us engaging profiles (The L.H. Baekeland Project and Hugh Karraker). We're already communicating with multiple contacts in the business to business world. One has recently scheduled a screening of ATB in their corporate event.
Grassroots Promotion
If you’ve been following us on social media or recently streamed our movie, you may have seen the promotion offering vintage Bakelite treasures. It was run by Vanquish Media Group and brought a lot of attention to the film. Prizes consisted of vintage Bakelite pieces from NYC jewelry designer, Jorge Caicedo Montes de Oca as well as new jewelry and keychains created by Christine Berntsen and Marc Huberman. More items, such as French and Dutch 1930-40’s Bakelite pen trays, hair combs and safety razors came from Reindert Groot’s Amsterdam Bakelite Collection. We also offered ATB posters signed by director John Maher and executive producer Hugh Karraker.

Many thanks to Jorge Caicedo, his wife Piedad Ceballos, and Reindert Groot for providing such beautiful selections of Bakelite items. And to Christine Berntsen and Marc Huberman for creating imaginative giveaways with them.
Marc Huberman drilling
Christine Berntsen assembling
More bracelets
From the Amsterdam
Bakelite Collection
While reading The Plastiquarian, the journal published by the Plastics Historical Society based in London, UK., we came across a delightful feature designed to intrigue any collector, historian, or curious person who loves “thingamabobs”. The publication shows a picture of an unusual or obscure plastic object and asks the reader, “What Is It?”. We thought it would be great fun and stimulate interest in the whole Bakelite phenomenon if we did the same thing with a Bakelite object in our newsletter. With the blessing of the PHS, we are hereby launching our first “Name this Bakelite Object” quiz, with prizes selected from the vintage Bakelite items shown above.
To enter, simply email your answer to Three winners with the correct answer will be chosen at random two weeks from today, and be notified via email. The name of the mystery object and its use will be revealed in our next newsletter.

Please follow, like and share our website link on your socials, adding #bakelitequiz. Bonus prizes will be offered to three additional winners chosen at random who email us a screen shot of their post. 

Thank you for participating and good luck!
Welcome New Team Member
We are proud to introduce a new member of Team ATB. Bud Mikhitarian is now helping us write many of the pieces we are publishing across various media platforms. Bud is not exactly new to us; he’s been in our “family” since the very beginnings of the ATB film project. As the brother of our film editor Craig Mikhitarian and close colleague of director John Maher, Bud contributed to the early story-structuring of the film. And his wife Brenda Renfroe was the costume designer for the film’s historical reenactment sequences.
Bud is also the author of the acclaimed book Many Faces, One Voice. Welcome aboard! 
What would Leo H. Baekeland think of the current state of plastic in our world? That looming question recently brought a group of us together to discuss what we could do to further ignite the dialogue around issues related to the responsible manufacture and use of plastic. 

Gathering under the aegis of The L.H. Baekeland Project, LLC at executive producer Hugh Karraker’s house, we realized that what we were contemplating was a challenge to the plastics industry to come up with safer and more earth-friendly materials. Already, many organizations and companies are working on the problem, but too many of their efforts fall flat or their promises are hollow. Greatly inspired by the spirit of Hugh's great grandfather, Leo H. Baekeland, we felt compelled to honor his legacy by doing our bit to inspire action.
( r.) Craig Mikhitarian, Bud Mikhitarian, Marc Huberman,
(Leo H. Baekeland), Hugh Karraker, John Maher, and Pete Stewart.
We discussed several ideas, including expanding the outreach of our film, which always stimulates dialogue wherever it is seen. We considered philanthropic work, such as supporting or joining with organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which play vital roles in educating and advocating for environmental causes. We also envisioned producing a series of video podcasts that would bring together people from many different disciplines and interests to discuss ways to significantly reduce the impact of plastic on the modern world—creating a virtual “roundtable” of environmentalists, educators, chemists, industry representatives, journalists, business leaders, designers, and visionaries. 

Going forward, we intend to develop these ideas and more, all the while recognizing that we will need the support of more established groups, institutions, and influencers to change the status quo. What do we need specifically? We would like help spreading the word about the film All Things Bakelite and scheduling screenings in your local community--at businesses, schools, your university, libraries, historical societies, and senior centers. (Audiences in all these venues have enjoyed and become inspired by the subject.) 

Also, The L. H. Baekeland Project seeks introductions to established organizations it can align with in furthering environmental goals around responsible plastic manufacturing and use, whether they be philanthropies, educational institutions, or socially responsible businesses. We are looking for partners to assist with underwriting our proposed initiatives.

We invite your participation. Please send an email outlining your interest to:
The Story of Bakelite
The Story of Bakelite book cover
By the 1920’s, inventor Leo Baekeland’s Bakelite was being used around the world in all manner of industrial and consumer products. As part of Baekeland’s General Bakelite Company publicity campaign, author John Kimberly Mumford (1863—1926) was commissioned to write, “The Story of Bakelite” published by Robert L. Stillson Co. Color Printers, New York City in 1924.

The book, written in the grandiose style of the time, describes Bakelite as “a wonderstuff”, a material that “ought to make metal ashamed of itself”, and “a triumph of creative chemistry.” It remains today a fascinating look into the creative marketing of Bakelite and a window into early 20th Century industrial America.

Connecticut-based actor and voice-over artist John Edward McDonough (1954 – 2021) reads selections from the book.
The Story of Bakelite” was one of McDonough’s last performances. He had a distinguished career performing on national television and on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion. He was a longtime member of the Hartford Stage Company, Co-Founder of The Company One Theatre, and the narrator at many Hartford Symphony concerts. His distinctive voice is familiar to many as the reader of popular audiobooks. 

Also, living in Connecticut, director John Maher, film editor Craig Mikhitarian and composer Marty Fegy collaborated to bring John Edward McDonough’s reading of “The Story of Bakelite” to life with historical images and music. Marty’s wife, Louise Acker gives the introduction.

Click the link to view the new 5-minute video on The L.H. Baekeland Project YouTube channel and website.
Breaking Free from Covid—Boon or Bust?
Science is a wonderful thing. We learn that with valid information and properly applied methodologies, we can achieve amazing results. Just look at how far we have come in a relatively short period beating back Covid-19 by uniting people, industry, agencies, and governments in the effort. The work is not done, but we're proving we can do it.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a great learning experience, and it gives us a heightened perspective on other existential concerns of our time. As global and penetrating as Covid is, it's just a microcosm and a symbol of the larger systemic problems that confront us. Climate, energy, economy, social justice—they are all bound up in a web of systems, of our own making, that can either serve us or destroy us. If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it is that by holding politicians, business leaders, activists, and media accountable for their actions and insisting on socially conscious policies, we can create positive change. Quite simply, our planet and all living things are doomed if we don’t change the failing systems that are as infectious and deadly as an out-of-control virus. The progress we have made in fighting Covid shows us that apocalypse is not inevitable. If we make the right choices.
Take plastic. Since it’s invention a mere 114 years ago, it has changed our world, mostly for the good. The pandemic itself has shown how much we need plastic in fighting disease and preventing its spread. But plastic also carries an insidious curse and slowly, inevitably, it has penetrated our systems and is destroying them. The irresponsible manufacture and use of plastic have gotten out of control and, like an epidemic, threatens life on our planet.
In the early days, Bakelite was mixed with asbestos and other additives. When it was discovered how harmful those substances were, the formula was changed. Many plastics will be with us forever, but we know we have the ability to make plastic safer, less toxic, disposably biodegradable, and totally recyclable. We have the capability, the science and the methods to revise the chemistry and economy of plastic so that we can continue to use this essential material, but with far less risk to our health. We have choices. Out of adversity comes opportunity—and now is the time to change the systems that can be a boon to our well-being.
As you can see, we at The L.H.Baekeland Project have a lot on our plate. But there’s always room for more, and we invite you to join us with your ideas and support—big or small, all are welcome. It’s the little things we do collectively that can, yes… save the world! In the meantime, stay safe.