We had a chance to chat with the innovative software engineer behind Arc Studio screenwriting software: Michi Huber. He has been building Arc Studio since 2018. Full disclosure, because we have been so impressed with the Arc Studio screenwriting software, The Script Lab’s parent company, Industry Arts, recently entered into a promotional partnership with Arc Studio for which we receive financial benefit for sales of the software. And even if we weren’t receiving financial compensation, we’d be enthusiastic supporters of this software, because it’s such a great tool for writers.
TSL: Why did you create Arc Studio screenwriting software?
Michi: I studied screenwriting in university in Vienna, Austria, and after a 10-year hiatus I wanted to pick it up again and realized that people were still using Final Draft. I was surprised that nothing had changed: the industry standard software still didn’t offer collaboration or professional outlining tools, the UI felt clunky like from the late 90s. There were some new tools that tried to move things forward, but they had disappointing design and weren’t professionally engineered. So I started interviewing professional writers and writers rooms about their workflow (I must have talked to close to 100 feature and TV screenwriters). What I learned was that they were still sending documents around via email. This was 10 years after Google Docs had transformed document collaboration. I was doing software engineering and consulting, and had tons of experience building collaborative document platforms.
So I set out to build something much better for screenwriters, both from the tech side – making things stable and trustworthy – and also from the design side: I wanted to build something beautiful that not only considered the end product – the script – but the whole process. What does it actually look like to be creative together? Where do you put ideas, and how do you organize them? Who is allowed to change things? How can we communicate that change effectively to others? How can software make the process easier, so that people can actually be creative together, instead doing mindless tasks that the computer should be doing?
Screenwriting is a fascinating challenge, because a script has wildly different meanings to different people: writers, co-writers, editors, showrunners, script coordinators, coverage readers, directors, producers, production assistants, sound departments, prop departments, actors – everybody has different needs and the vision is to give everybody the tools they need to make sense of the process.
Developing Arc Studio has been a fun challenge, both from the design, as well as the engineering perspective.
TSL: Why did you decide to make a free version of Arc Studio?
Michi: Filmmaking is a notoriously expensive art form, but the writing part is totally free – it just takes great ideas and lots of persistence. I wanted to give beginners access to professional tools, to get them started.
Ideally, we want to make more and more parts of the app free and charge the professionals and serious writers who value convenience and advanced tools. But the basics should be free for all, as much as the economics of our business allow.
I believe that charging for upgraded versions of software is an outdated business model. Arc Studio is a freemium subscription-based software that offers a better experience for screenwriters. With the free browser-based version of the software you can write a professionally formatted screenplay from pretty much any online device. The professional paid version has downloadable offline software and mobile apps which expand on the core functionality in the free version.
TSL: What are some of the most popular features of Arc Studio software currently?
Michi: More than I anticipated, people really like the appealing user interface. They value that the software is thoughtfully designed. We constantly try to remove more friction across all aspects – writing, outlining, feedback, collaboration – and people really seem to love that we make it easy to stay focused and “in the zone” of their creative process.
TSL: How are you going to convince professional writers to use Arc Studio instead of Final Draft?
Michi: We have more and more professionals switching to Arc Studio every day, which is really encouraging. We’re especially successful with teams, because our real-time collaboration features help with all aspects of team work: writing, outlining, feedback, revisions, and even project management.
There are always one or two people who say, “let’s just use Final Draft”, because that’s what they are used to. They want to write and not learn a new software. But then they give Arc Studio a shot – and they realize that it’s very intuitive learn, and that even the core screenwriting experience is smoother and more enjoyable than before.
So we’re doubling down on our team features, because this exposes professionals to the core writing experience, which makes them switch for good, even for their solo projects.
TSL: What are you most excited about for Arc Studio screenwriting software in the coming months?
Michi: A lot of people have been asking for the iOS mobile app, and we’re gonna launch that in the coming days. I was skeptical, because a phone isn’t really great for writing. But then we started building the app and I was really pleasantly surprised how well it works on the iPhone and the iPad.
We’ve also collected lots of feedback from writers about our outlining tools, so I’m excited for our next iteration of that.
And, of course, I’m excited how our team platform is going to evolve, as we onboard more and more professional writing teams and TV writers rooms.
It’s gonna be an exciting new year!
Michi Huber is a software engineer from Vienna, Austria. The company, Arc Studio Group, is now based in Los Angeles. If you have any questions about Arc Studio, you can reach out to the Arc Studio team: [email protected]
If you want to sign up for Arc Studio (either free or pro version), you can learn more here.