10 June - After two months of operating as Invitation-Only, Cultpix is now open for anyone to join, as long as you are over 18, have a credit card and don’t live in North Korea. So you can now browse the site, see what films are on it and read up about them, before deciding whether you want to join. (Of course you want to!) The opening coincided with a global outage by database provider Fastly, so 13 members were frustrated in trying to get an SMS code to log in. Sorry, cyberdog ate our homework, but it looks like it is fixed now.
What is particularly encouraging, is that the majority of new members are selecting the option to sign up for a year, rather than the monthly fee of $6.66, which works out to a saving of $20 per annually because loyalty pays. Smart people, but maybe they look at the site and think to themselves that there are enough great films here to keep them watching for a whole year.
We started out with around 400 films and TV shows and we are now close to 500 on the site that are either published or ready to go. Some we hold back for special theme weeks, while for others we are doing some post work. We have more discussions underway that should see us hit 800 by the end of the year and 1,000 within a year of launch, with an average of five new films/episodes every week. The best films often come from suggestions from members of what they would like to see, which leads us down interesting rabbit holes and helps us discover companies with some amazing libraries. So tell us what you would like to see.
With the site now open, we want to see how it develops, but we are not planning some major expansion or advertising campaign. We would be happier if membership spreads slowly by word-of-mouth so that it was something you discovered, rather than had sold to you. We want to be a portal into the coolest virtual video rental store from 1986, where you can find things you had no idea you would love. So only tell special friends about it.
3 June - Cultpix is now open to anyone (over 18) anywhere in the world. Two months on from our launch we feel that it is stable enough to offer to more people than just the initial VIPs invited. Thank you to those of you who joined early and helped us navigate the pioneering early days figuring out any technical issues with the site. Everybody has been incredibly supportive and understanding. We also had terrific feedback from the first members who wrote to say that this is exactly the kind of service that was missing in their lives and who came up with great suggestions of how to improve Cultpix further, both in terms of films and features on the site. Watch out for lots of improvements in Phase 2 soon.
We had the slight misfortune that the launch coincided with a global outage of data centre provider Fastly, which impacted everyone from The Guardian to Spotify. Even though we do not use Fastly directly ourselves, it seems that some of our service providers do, such as SMS verfication platform Firebase. That is why 13 of you were unable to log in during the last 24 hours. Sorry about this but it was truly out of our hands and it should be getting back to normal now. But don't hesitate about writing to us, even if it is with problems (or especially), because we love any excuse to talk to our members as we soon slip into discussing which films we like and want to see on the site. There is lots more coming!
Cultpix - whatever your device or screen size!
3 June - How do you watch Cultpix? We don’t mean what films or TV shows, but the type of screen you use to feast on the cult content on offer. We haven’t dug into Google Analytics and we are anyways weary of ‘spying’ on our members and tracking their behaviour, so we prefer to ask you directly, as it helps us in developing the site. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us. Thanks.
We took the decision to be a web-first platform when we launched, because it would ensure the biggest possible spread of Cultpix as a global platform and the least censorship - as long as there wasn’t a big firewall blocking us. But not all browsers are equal and while we have fixed issues with Firefox and Safari, smart TV web browsers like those of LG and Sony are just too quirky (tech term - but something to do with Java) to play nice with Cultpix.
If you can’t plug an HDMI cable from your laptop or computer to your television then Chromecast and AirPlay seem the preferred solutions for watching Cultpix on a bigger screen. At the moment Chromecast is working for many but not for all, with the type of device, its age and other factors playing in. It is top of our priority list but it is one of those tasks that our web team is realising is bigger than originally anticipated. That would be why everyone from Netflix to the BBC have so much IT staff, while we make do with a small and talented but overworked team.
Many of our members, and especially younger ones (we are not all middle age fanboys) seem perfectly content to watch Cultpix on laptops, tablets and smartphones, where it is working fine. But these films are best experienced on the biggest screen. And we don’t mean your Samsung 55 inch but a cinema, which is why we are partnering cinemas and festivals around the world to bring Cultpix to the silver screen. The first one has just taken place in Rome with Fantafestival 2021 (Ciao Simone!) and there will be plenty more.
Final reminder: Cultpix opens up to everyone on Monday 7 June. If you are a VIP, then now is the time to join, or email us to get in ahead of the mob.
Find Cultpix at this year's Fanta Festival in Rome.
26 May - In early June we will open up Cultpix to anyone over 18 with a credit card. So a big thanks to the 250+ who became members early and gave us invaluable insights into how we could improve the site, both in terms of the films you want to see on here, as well as tackling the technical issues that are inevitable with any new technology launch.
Above all it has made us realise that you are all as passionate as we are about cult films. Prior to launch we did not undertake any market research, hire any pollsters or put together a slick PowerPoint deck explaining the market size and potential of a streaming platform for films that most people have never heard of. We didn’t think any VC firms would give us money - or would impose conditions if they did - so we just decided to fund it out of our own savings and revenue. We cherish our freedom to do what we like, including making mistakes.
We still don’t know what will happen when the site is open for anyone to join, but we are hopeful that we can make it viable enough to keep it going. We are not spending money on marketing, instead we are communicating with our members and fans through this newsletter, countless emails, on social media and with our podcast. We prefer that Cultpix is something that you discover, recommend and share, rather than having a Facebook ad pop up in your feed, just like we discovered these films in the days before social media.
Finnish media analyst Kari Haakana recently wrote a great article that mentioned Cultpix, where he noted that “the streaming market is not just made up of big players,” but that “services can be set up for carefully thought-out target groups who want just a certain type of content” through ‘specialised streaming services’. Very true, except we don’t think of Cultpix members as a ‘thought-out target group’ but people that we would enjoy watching these kinds of films with, whether online or in real life. Because Cultpix will be coming to the real world too. Stay tuned!
What's impressing Finns and others.
19 May - All of Cultpix’s major technical issues seem to be resolved, though Chromecast remains hit-and-miss, so we will be working to resolve that. But having fixed other things it means that, a) more of you on the waiting list will be getting invites this week, b) we can open up the site in early June, c) Phase 2 of developing features on Cultpix.
There are bunch of things we want to implement on Cultpix that you would not see on many other streaming services, such as a comment field where you can post your own thoughts/review/rant; a picture gallery for posters, lobby cards and photos (we have tons for many of our films), collections of articles and writings about many of the films to get to know them better and more.
There are also technical improvements that are coming soon. These include the ability to navigate the Subgenres, so that you do not just have Horror and Science fiction, but that you can dig down to Women-in-prison, Lingonberry Westerns, Martial Arts and the many other categories of film that you might not even have realised how much you will love. There will be the ability to have an ‘Add To My List’ function, as well as automatically resume the film where you left off.
The budget we have for IT is not huge (it probably wouldn’t pay for what N-flix’s CEO spends on lunch meetings in a week), but we are determined to make the site user-friendly and stylish looking. So we want to hear from you about how we can improve the site with great content and better functionalities. Cultpix is your site, so tell us how we can make it the best home for classic cult films.
Chromecast works with Cultpix... sometimes.
14 May - So we seem to have resolved the issue with payments and are migrating to a more stable SMS login code platform (Twilio as a backup to Firebase), as well as resolving a lot of browser compatibility issues. Streaming (AirPlay and Chromecast) is still not as smooth as we would like, so our IT development team will be working on that over the next few weeks. We have also given them the go-ahead to start preparing for Android and possibly even iOS apps of Cultpix, while we also look at Roku.
Thank you to all our existing members for your patience and also for taking the time to write and explain what is or is not working, so that we can try to resolve it. You are both VIPs, pioneers and one of Bela Lugosi's unfortunate lab specimen. But hopefully you are noticing an improvement already and the fact that most of you seem to be watching without problems (at least ones you tell us) gives us hope that you are just enjoying Cultpix. We promise to keep tweaking and fixing until we are completely happy, which is when we start to implement a whole bunch of other cool new things.
It knows what you want to watch - or at least it will tell you so.
13 May - When we first announced in the Variety article that Cultpix was launching we heard from a lot of people. Many wanted to join (next batch being admitted tomorrow Friday), plenty of distributors were keen to do deals with us, but we also had software service companies coming out of the woodworks to offer us algorithms and analytics for managing our CRM (i.e. managing you).
We listened to their presentations and read through their slide decks. They were very nice and offered us lots of incentives for implementing their software tools for ‘reducing churn’ and ‘increasing engagements’ by ‘serving up automated suggestions’ of things to view next. Ultimately we politely declined them all and told them that we prefer to focus on curating films and communicating directly with our customers.
We answer all emails sent to us. That is not a boast or a promise, but simply how we work. We do not have a help desk, so if a member has problems logging in or there is an issue with a browser (yes, still), then they hear back from myself or Rickard. If we can’t solve it we pass it on to our IT team, but we keep in touch with that member until it is resolved. Because that is how we learn what they like and what else they would like to see on Cultpix, whether it is a ‘Resume’ function to play films, or a TV series like Space 1999.
We don’t pretend to know everything you like or it might not yet be on Cultpix. But we want to suggest things you don’t yet know you might like or even have heard of. Hence the theme weeks of films, which we will eventually open up to outside curation by even more knowledgeable people than us. So for now we suggest things like silent horror, Nazisploitation, or this week’s educational films with a bloody twist. More film ideas also in our podcast and social media.
An industry colleague pointed out that he often discovered more new films on N-flix from the suggestions based on the first three letters in a search for something completely different, which he had no idea was on the site. Because there is an excessive belief that algorithms will serve you up exactly what you want, instead of just suggesting Bridgerton to everyone. We are far from perfect and our tastes are subjective, but talking to you we hope to learn from your suggestions and in turn share what we discover with everybody. Cultpix isn’t for everybody, but for those who join we promise there will always be something new for you.
System accepts you.
7 May - Cultpix is now one month old. Though it feel more like six months, frankly, but it has been amazing. Despite minor technology issues (Now fixed! Details below.) the feedback and support from all you guys and gals has been super positive. Thank you for all the suggestions of great films you would like to see on the site; 80s horror/sci/fi and Italian cult by Argento and Franco tops the wish lists, it seems. We can't promise that we will secure rights to all of them, but we promise that we will try our hardest. We will continue to add more films and improve the site, so Cultpix in 12 months time will be even better, mainly thanks to your support.
We are starting to send out more invitations to those on the waiting list, because we are now confident that we have resolved most of the technical issues that were causing problems for some members.
First of all, we often did not explain things clearly enough, like if you are trying to log in from a new device you need to enter through the VIP access point https://www.cultpix.com//early-access rather than via cultpix.com but we are learning ourselves. After that the problem was a zero, or rather two 0's. People who entered their phone humber with an international access code but without removing the zero (+4607... for a Swedish number) got an error message. Now the system understands and remove that 0 automatically. Secondly the payment platform was tripped up by CVV numbers that started with a - you guessed it - zero. That has now been fixed too. We look forward to welcoming more of you.
Zero's to blame!
6 May - Don't think about leaving Cultpix! Seriously, please. We have had members who thought they were being smart by cancelling their subscription early so that they would not have to pay again in 12 months time. What they didn't appreciate is that if you do that, membership is terminated with immediate affect. This is a cult, so if you are planning on leaving, that means you are out. Because you are either with Cultpix, or you are not with Cultpix. Though unlike other cult, we refunded them and they can apply to re-join when we open the site to everybody, but then they will have to pay more ($6.66/month or $59/year).
But why would you want to leave? We are adding an average of five new films every week, so there is always something new to watch. By the end of this year we expect to have doubled the amount of titles available on the site, including lots more cult television shows. We also have some exciting theme weeks planned, not to mention all the future cool new things like virtual screenings, Q&As and real-life get-togethers. We want to you to want to stay, so decide in 12 months time if you want to remain or if you have had enough, instead of guessing now how you will feel then. Together with you we are building something amazing.
Look into my eyes - you want to stay part of Cultpix FOREVER!
5 May - We appreciate that English is the most universal language, particularly for cult films, but it is not the only one. Where we have multiple versions of the same films, we have uploaded them separately, so that you can watch Christina Lindberg ‘speak’ German in both Exposed and Anita. The same is the case for French for some of the naughtier Swedish films that we will soon be adding.
But subtitles is the most universal way of enjoying cult films, which is why we have been adding French, German and Italian subs for our own HD restored films (Terror in the Midnight Sun, The Naughty Vicar and The Language of Love and More from the Language of Love). But we have also been adding English subs to American classics like Plan 9 From Outer Space, because if English is not your native language it makes it easier to follow and enjoy. Over time we will get to those Estonian and Portuguese subs, as well as commissioning our own subtitles for films for which none are currently available.
With this Friday marking the days when we start admitting people on the Cultpix waiting list from outside Sweden and Finland, subject to resolving the payment issue, which turns out has to do with 3D Security for some cards.
Anita - Swedish Nymphets subtitles
26 April - For anyone having problems logging in with SMS, it is not your fault, it is not our fault, it is a problem with Firebase. The global platform for SMS codes is slow and has been having problems for a week now. This means that many members get locked out after multiple log in attempts. We are trying to lift that restriction, at least until Firebase get their s#!t together. Apologies. - D.N.
P.S. And please ALWAYS check that you include the country code before your number (+46 for Sweden) and do not include the 0 (zero) normally before your number.
Please be patient while waiting for SMS code.
24 April - This weekend we have started to gradually send out invitation to those on the Waiting List to join Cultpix. Initially we are sending this out to film fans in our native Sweden and also in Finland? So why do we discriminate against cult film fans in other countries? Hear us out; we love you too, but...
There are still things we are trying to resolve. The Cultpix platform itself is running well, but we still hit the occasional snags. Like signing up and in via SMS code. We have to get better at communicating things like when you type in your mobile number (cell phone, to our US cousins) you have to include your country code first (+46 in the case of Sweden) and not include the 0 that is normally at the start of your number. It might seem obvious to us, but that doesn't mean that we should not be clearer at explaining. Our bad. So as long as we are acting IT support - as well as doing everything else - it is easier in öur nätive långuäge.
And Finland? We recently had a surge in interest from Finland based on a single article. So we want to find out how that interest translates into people becoming members. The response so far has been incredibly encouraging. Since we have not been promoting Cultpix in countries outside of Sweden, other than the Variety article, this will help us when the time comes to open the gates to everybody. Because we don't have a big marketing budget, so we have to be smart in how we let people in on the secret that Cultpix still is.
Oh, and Finland is an incredibly cool (not just cold) country. Not only do we have two of the films on Cultpix by Jörn Donner, the Finnish writer, film director, actor, producer, politician and founder of Finnish Film Archive, but it is also the country that gave the world Eurovision winners Lordi and the cult classic Iron Sky - though sadly it is too news (2012) to be on Cultpix. Or what do you think? Make an exception? - D.N.
Finland, Finland, Finland - the country where we quite want to be.
19 April - The Cultpix that you see today is the worst it will ever be. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with it or something happens. It just means that this is the starting point rather than the finished product. From here in it will just become bigger and better.
In Silicon Valley jargon the current site is MVP, or minimum viable product (not, as in sports, most valuable player). We have been working, developing, testing and refining it since last year, but at some point we need to launch with something, rather than waiting for yet more films or features to be added. We know what still needs doing, such as including a 'Resume' function for playing films and 'Add to My List' ability, both of which are standard in other streaming platforms, but which still require hours of coding when you are building your own platform from scratch. We also have another 100 or so films that will be added to the site, some of which we are waiting to finalise the deal, other for which we are still waiting for the DVDs and BluRays to arrive from the US. Or we are saving some for a special launch.
This is not so much an excuse (OK, maybe a bit), as a Thank You to all of you VIPs who chose to join the Cultpix early, when it was still a bit rough, with gremlins lurking in the code. Once day you will be able to tell people that you were the very first members of Cultpix, when it was still in its infancy, before it became a truly global phenomenon. We salute you! - D.N.
15 April - You solve one problem and inevitably two or three new ones pop up. The Safari thing we are working on, but if you are a VIP and having trouble logging in, make sure do not go through the front gate (cultpix.com) but the special secret VIP entrance link we sent you (https://www.cultpix.com/early-access), because you don't want to be outside with the mob banging on the gate and demanding to be let in (sorry, not yet). There is also an issue with SMS access code that turned out to be a global issue with Firebase, which is the SMS platform, so this does not just impact Cultpix, but we are still sorry that it means some of our members couldn't get in. Hopefully all resolved now.
In more positive news, we have had a great response to both the newsletter and the podcast Cultpix Radio - WCPX 66.6, which is now available from Apple, Google and Spotify. Already downloaded 50 times, w00t!! We have been busy continuing to upgrade many of our films to higher quality versions. Even for films we have deals in place for, we have sometimes had to track down and source them from pirate sites for lack of other material. So we are pleased that films like Blue Beard, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Cause for Alarm, Teenage Zombies, Suddenly are now looking much better than before.
Best of all are the ongoing discussions with rights-holders to some amazing collections. They are first of all cool people, because just like us, they are not primarily doing it for the money (nobody got rich off cult films yet) but because we are passionate. We will update you here once we have the deals in place and what films you can expect.
As before, thanks for your patience in supporting us while we are still fixing issues with the site and do please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you can tell us what you think. And hope you enjoy some great films on Cultpix this weekend. - D. N.
12 April - Stripe is working! (Hallelujah or Praise the Dark Lord, depending on your affiliation.) After many frustrated exchanges over the weekend, this week the account was enabled and the first members were able to sign up with their credit cards to join the cult, sorry, Cultpix. Slowly we will notify all VIPs that things seem to be working and they they too can now all join. Dancing with joy!!
More positive developments is that we now have a podcast: Cultpix Radio - WCPX 66.6 will be made available through all the usual podcast suppliers (Spotify, Apple, etc.) this week, but for anyone who wants to listen to myself (Django Nudo) and the Smut Peddler about the origins of Cultpix and Klubb Super 8 (and how Quentin Tarantino once came to our rescue), you can find the episode here.
We have also been uploading better quality versions of some of the films already on the site, such as The Sadist, White Zombie, Night of the Living Dead and Sex Madness. Please let us know if you see or know of a better quality version of a film on here, so that we can show it in the best possible quality available.
We have also started having discussions with archives, rights holders and distributors about adding more titles here soon. But above all we are thrilled that you can now become members and start enjoying some amazing films and TV shows. Let us know what you think, any technical issues and what you would like to see next. - D.N.
11 April - So despite multiple promises to have done so, the helpline agents of S.T.R.I.P.E. have still not unblocked/activiated our account. So we can withdraw money, except there is no money, because nobody is able to pay to join Cultpix. We have scores of people banging on our virtual gates, waving their credit cards, begging us to take their money and we can do... nothing. Except to wait for the Silicon Valley Tech Gods to deem us worthy. Deeply frustrating.
On a much more positive note, we have had an amazing response from those of you that have heard about Cultpix and been in touch. We have had help from Italy in terms of identifying films on our platform that have a rights holder we need to track down as well film for which there are better quality versions that we are busy upgrading to. We heard from one of the biggest film archives in North America that turned out to have a a 35mm print of a film that we had been looking for without success for years.
Several amazing distributors have been in touch about licensing their catalogue with some incredible titles (horror, nudies, blaxploitation and much more). People have volunteered to help provide subtitles for some of our films, while others have an affordable 3D solution that could enable us to show our films in three dimensions. And everybody have been incredibly understanding about the initial delays, hiccups and problems that we hope to have overcome soon. This really does feel like we are building a community and not just getting another streaming platform off the ground. Thank you and do keep writing to us. - D.N.
9 April - Still trying to resolve the S.T.R.I.P.E. payment issues. So apparently our status was 'Active' but not 'Verified' - yeah, don't ask. "You will need a valid website that outlines your business and products," was the message from them. [insert GIF of head slowly banging on desk] Hopefully it will be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours. We do appreciate the frustration of being able to navigate the website, but not watch the films. Believe us, we want to take your money as much as you want to spend it with us. It's just that we are at the mercy of un-accountable Silicon Valley corporations.
Meanwhile we've had some amazing publicity, both in our native Swedän as well as internationally. So shamelessly we are including all the links below, also since we don't know where else to stick them:
People have also been praising and bitching about us on Reddit, particularly the price of $6.66 per month. Don't like it? Then sign up for a year's unlimited viewing for less than the price of one Big Mac per month. A cult is not something you sign up for on a month-by-month basis, but for life. Failing that, an annual membership is the next best thing. Now back to trying to fix S.T.R.I.P.E. issues. - D.N.
8 April - So we went live yesterday. The site had a great writeup in both Swedish newspapers and in Variety. The response from all of you was super positive and we were relieved to finally talk more freely about what it was that we had been working on since last year. Lots of you wrote to congratulate and we had a great response on social media (please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter if you can).
Today we sent out our first email newsletter to give everyone a taste of what is new and on the site. We also opened up our site to first VIP invitees - and immediately ran into problems with the Stripe payment system 🙈 This is why we do not open up Cultpix to everyone. Clearly there are still issues we have to resolve, or rather, that we have to beat up our software development team to resolve. Quickly! Hopefully you won't get fed up with hearing, "thanks for your patience - we are trying to resolve this as quickly as possible." We know you just want to watch some great films. - D.N.
5 April - Less than 48 hours to go until we launch, and as with any start-up, there are still plenty of things that are not working 100% as we would like them to. We have had great support from the beta testers (we love you), but we have to triage what can wait, what needs fixing and what is an emergency. There seems to be an issue with AirPlay for Apple, so if you are trying to cast from an iPad to a 4th gen Apple TV box, we will hopefully have fixed it by the time you read this. If not, sorry and we are working on it.
More critical to resolve is how we handle the invitation only. While we would love to throw open the gates to everyone and all, we need to be sure that everything is working well. That is why we are prioritising our closest friends and colleagues, who are also offered a slight discount and incentive for coming onboard early and helping Cultpix take its first baby steps. We are looking for feedback every day and in every way, whether it s the type of films you want to see, which films we need to sort out subtitles for next or anything technical that you like to see improved. You will be hearing a lot of this phrase in the future: 'Thank you for your patience and your support.' - D.N.
1 April - We have a newsletter! No joke. Having put it off until after pretty much everything else, it was time to wrap our minds around MailChimp. Given that they pretty much the industry standard, it should not have been a surprise how easy it was to master. That is not to say that the first effort was slick and polished, but it worked. The Weekly Exploiter, as we are calling the newsletter, will feature news about films the we upload, theme weeks, the latest TV series episodes, This Week in History (Quentin's birthday!), International Theme Days linked to movies, spotlight on a film poster, Letters to the Editor and competitions. I am sure we will think of more. Plus usual links to Instagram, Facebook and Unsubscribe option (please don't). The font for the text is Trebuchet MS, but the headline is Anton, for those that care about these things. We do. The newsletter might be a bit rough for now, but we don't want it to be complete amateurville! -D.N.
26 March - Subtitles and CC / captions - One of the things we are working hard on right now is subtitles, which is not an easy thing to learn from scratch. This is particularly important for English subtitles for our Swedish films. Some we are extracting from our DVD/BDs, others we are sourcing from OpenSubtitles, which is an amazing resource. Once we are done with English, we will try to add other languages wherever possible, so that you can watch Anita - Swedish Nymphet with Estonian subtitles or Plan 9 From Outer Space with Greek subtitles.
But there are many English-language films that would benefit from English-language captioning. This is not just for hearing impaired, but also for anyone trying to follow the dialogue. We will get to it, but in the meantime there is an amazing tool from Google that provides automatic captioning for any video or audio. It is free, works with Chrome and is simple to enable. It feels like science fiction but it works. Here are the instructions on how to enable it. Let us know what you think. - Django Nudo
25 March - Two weeks to go until launch - Feeling both excited and nervous. We still haven't tracked down the book "How To Launch a Streaming Service in 10 Easy Steps", so instead we continue to make it up as we go along.
This week we have signed up ARRI Media/Lola Film, BFI and Nikkatsu, so that will be some great films; figured out how to fix subtitles (including sync issues); getting final feedback from our Beta testers; added more films (Blondin i Fara/Blonde in Bondage, Weed) and trailers (Herostratus, Requiem for a Village); done first blog post; assembled calendar of cult stars' birthdays and film premiere dates to feed our social media output; learning Mailchimp; looking into podcasting tools; deciding on the 123 VIPs who will be the first to be invited to join Cultpix; trying to sign more deals and films; finalising the finishing fixes and tweaks with our software development team and probably a hundred other things.
If we knew all the things we don't know that can still go wrong, we would probably be freaking out severely. - Django Nudo