Building The Base: A Powerful Personal Editing PC (Part 1)
MORE THAN JUST A COMPUTER
[PC Build and parts completed February 2017]
For years, screenwriting has dominated the quiet moments in my life. To be honest, I needed screenwriting during those moments. When I’m able to take a deep breath my brain begins to wander. It’s led to a couple minor battles with anxiety. I say minor because I’ve seen the effects of serious anxiety in my family before. My own personal war against negative thoughts hinges on my ability to find the right distractions. Wonderful distractions like writing screenplays.
I learned long ago that being creative is my number one weapon against the rising tides of anxiety. The majority of my anxiety is focused on worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. I’m always concerned about things I can’t control. What ‘bad’ thing will happen today… There simply aren’t that many tangible causes for anxiety in my life so I silence my brain by putting it to work.
Writing movies keeps me calm. It makes me happy and for a long time, I kept the majority of my work to myself. Screenwriting was more than my own personal Hollywood aspirations. It was a welcomed addiction I fueled with no regrets. Whenever I felt low, I simply disappeared into a story and the waves of anxiety subsided.
Until my beautiful baby girl was born.
Nearly three years ago, my little princess came into this world, smiled and changed my life forever. Suddenly, the quiet moments I dreaded were filled with her laughter. She became my NEW greatest weapon against anxiety. How can you focus on bad things that haven’t happened when the best thing to ever happen is right in front of you?
It changed how I felt about screenwriting because I didn’t NEED to write movies anymore. My favorite hobby needed a new purpose. I decided it was time to tackle my greatest fear… Eye balls. A screenplay only exists in your mind unless you have the skills to create images readers can understand. You have to take them on a journey and show them why your story is compelling. For decades, I had avoided sending my screenplays out into the world. Screenwriting was just for me.
So, I decided to start a new screenplay this past year. For several months I wrote whenever I could. Slowly, I fell in love with my script and, as a result, I fell in love with a screenwriting in a brand new way. It was no longer a necessity. I learned that I simply love to write screenplays.
I entered my completed screenplay in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship. My goal was to write a script that could make it past the first round of the competition. It didn’t. Did I think it would win? No. The odds of winning a major screenwriting competition with your first script are extremely low. It would have been a massive shock but you have to be realistic. I wanted to make it past the first round to prove I could write something that would stand above the line most would call average. Then I would return to the lab and write something even better.
When my screenplay failed to advance past the first round I questioned my skills. I KNOW screenwriting. I’ve been studying the craft for years. I even run a website called The Screenwriting Spark. Even I can admit that becoming a screenwriting expert doesn’t guarantee screenwriting success. You still have to tell a good story and that is difficult to accomplish. Screenwriting is hard and that’s what makes it fascinating. I know this but I still felt low. I still believe it’s the best screenplay I’ve ever written to this day.
What comes next when your faith in yourself is shaken? You get right back to work! Except I didn’t… I love writing screenplays. I think my new idea could be even better. You have to constantly challenge yourself to improve in any creative medium. But I couldn’t bring myself to write something new.
I’m the type of person who always needs a project to work on. Something to keep my mind occupied. Not necessarily to battle anxiety anymore but simply because I love to be creative. With screenwriting temporarily on hold, I needed a new hobby…
In my day to day life, I’m a professional video editor. I work in the world of professional sports broadcasting and I’m just about to enter my 12th year in the industry. I consider myself extremely fortunate to love my job. I’m addicted to the editing process and I’m hopelessly devoted to sports. Every sport. (But mostly the Toronto Blue Jays)
Last summer, I decided to FINALLY shop for a PC powerful enough to edit projects at home. Specifically videos of my daughter. The more I researched the usual suspects like Dell, the more I realized I needed full control of my build. Around the time I lost the screenwriting competition in September, I began a journey to build my own PC.
I’m a giant nerd but building a computer scared the hell out of me but the timing couldn’t have been better. I needed a break from screenwriting and building a PC was the perfect way to keep my brain occupied. For months I researched every part I wanted to purchase. I watched HUNDREDS of hours of YouTube tutorials and taught myself how to build a custom computer. I’m sure my wife and close friends would tell you I bombarded them with facts about my system. It’s all I wanted to talk about. I lit up whenever people asked me how it was going.
It’s 2017 now and I’ve been working on this project for more than six months. My perfect PC is a balance of power and personality. My personality. A blend between technology and sports. My black and white baseball build! (Or more specifically, my black and white Toronto Blue Jays build!)
There it is! Nearly 7 months of planning and three afternoons of building. A PC I affectionately named The Base.
Here are the specs for my brand new system:
CASE: NZXT S340 Elite Matte White http://amzn.to/2ihDNw1
MOTHERBOARD: ASUS Sabertooth Z170 http://amzn.to/2iby5Ol
CPU: Intel i7 6700K http://amzn.to/2ilsFAO
CPU Cooler: Deepcool Captain 240 EX http://amzn.to/2ibG6D7
GPU: ASUS Dual GTX 1070 8GB http://amzn.to/2ibwZCa
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 2400 (4x8GB) http://amzn.to/2hQQz3L
PSU: EVGA 750W 80+ Gold http://amzn.to/2hwslOl
MEMORY 1: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2 http://amzn.to/2ilAWoB
MEMORY 2: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB http://amzn.to/2hwiU1E
MEMORY 3: WD Blue 3TB http://amzn.to/2iINFhv
MONITOR: LG 34” Ultrawide http://amzn.to/2ihHhyx
It doesn’t end there. This project required a whole new desk setup! A brand new space for my brain to thrive creatively. My new PC is a massive upgrade to my existing Dell and iMac setup. I’ve kept my older systems around but The Base is now the center of my creative universe!
Part 2 of this series will focus less on why I built this system and more on how it all came together. Building this computer was definitely full of challenges. In that way, it’s not all that different from screenwriting. There are always bumps along the way but crossing the finish line is that much more inspiring when you overcome them.
When my new PC booted for the first time, I felt the same sense of excitement I feel when I finish a new screenplay. It reminded me of why I love being creative in the first place. I’ve struggled throughout the last few months with an overwhelming sense of guilt for stepping away from screenwriting. Building this PC taught me that it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes that’s the only way to gain a new perspective on life.
The Base was exactly what I needed. I was able to learn a new skill piecing together intimidating components to create something I’m proud of. I don’t know when I’ll return to screenwriting yet but it’s never far from my mind. Someday soon, a quiet moment will present itself and a brand new journey will begin. Typing the words ‘FADE IN’ will be that much more satisfying using a PC I built myself.
Stay tuned for Part 2!