Down the rabbit hole: Ronald Sit’s pursuits in art and film

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Graphic illustration by Lillian Fu

Ronald Sit pursues his interests in art and film throughout high school.

Lillian Fu

Whether it be inking an original piece or directing a scene, junior Ronald Sit’s high school experience is defined by his creative explorations. As a young artist, Sit runs an art Instagram account where he posts his illustrations and comic strips. As an aspiring film director, he founded Rabbit Hole Productions where he writes, directs and produces short films.

“I find it interesting to show to the world what you perceive it as,” said Sit. “You can do anything with art — it’s a way of expressing artistic values.”

Sit’s journey in both art and film began at an early age. As a child, Sit spent his time doodling in notebooks and taught himself shading and proportions later on in middle school. By the time he reached high school, he realized art had become a serious passion of his and as such, he decided to open an art account under the username “cidercrow” in 2018. The name comes from his love of apple cider and a reference to his first short film, which was originally going to be called “The Crow” before undergoing changes to the plot for the sake of simplicity. The account now has almost 200 posts and accepts commissions.

Sit’s interest in film began because of his father, who frequently took him to see movies when Sit was young. His father also taught him how to recognize what separates a good movie from a bad one and how different directors use different styles. Sit used this analytical knowledge as well as his art background to begin his filmmaking.

“In ninth grade, I started experimenting with drawing fight scenes from my favorite movies,” said Sit. “I sketched them out to get used to storyboarding, and then one thing led to another and now I just try to experiment with films.”

On his Instagram account, Sit displays original pieces done mainly in ink on paper. He has participated in Inktober, a challenge for ink artists that spans all of October every year, in 2019 and 2020, developing two 31 page comics. Mostly fantasy and sci-fi, his works feature monsters and mechas and his stories contain action-heavy scenes set in an apocalyptic world.

“When I draw, I just sit and stare at this blank piece of paper, and I think to myself, ‘What can I do, what can I express in a non-normal way to make people interested’,” said Sit. “People have already seen a lot of normal in their lives, so I want to create something completely different than everything else, something new and fresh to make [my] audience interested.”

Sit’s approach to filmmaking follows the same ideal. For instance, the production company Sit founded and runs, Rabbit Hole Productions, is named after the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He was fascinated by the story of an ordinary girl wanting something more than normal and pursuing that desire down the rabbit hole into a different, and crazier, reality.

“[Alice] wakes up and realizes that normal is probably better,” said Sit. “But sometimes you can mix between both, which was what I took from it. So the rabbit hole symbolizes a vision from someone else. You can put [your art] on the screen and show people what your insanity means and what your perspective of the world is.”

In the summer of 2020, Sit directed his first short film “Soundstalker.” The film, inspired by silent movies, follows a teenage boy as he’s hunted by a monster that moves based on sound. Sit, a fan of Charlie Chaplin’s works, tested the importance of dialogue in films through this production.

“You don’t need someone talking over the orchestra,” said Sit. “You don’t need to have dialogue to tell a story sometimes. That’s what I was going for, though it’ll probably only be a one-time thing.”

The process of creating “Soundstalker” ran into issues due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Originally intended to be completed before the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Sit was forced to push production back to the following summer. He also had to take extra precautions to ensure a safe filming environment for both himself and his cast members.

After directing the shooting, Sit handled the production of the film by himself, editing the scenes using video-editing software Adobe Premiere Pro. He also collected most of the sound samples personally with his parents’ old audio recorder, going out in the streets and recording the sounds of passing cars and background noise or recording himself coughing, sneezing and scribbling with a pencil to recreate the classroom ambience. After all that effort, “Soundstalker” became a project Sit was proud of.

“I know there were still some bad parts in Soundstalker, but all I can think about now is the good stuff and how hard I worked on it,” said Sit.

While “Soundstalker” is only the first of Sit’s directing experiences, Rabbit Hole Productions is releasing another short film on April 10 and plans on making many more in the future. After deciding to pursue film as a career over art in middle school and founding his production company, Sit had his eyes set on attending film school and one day getting his name into movie theaters. He is also keeping up with his other passions and continues to post artwork on his Instagram account. 

After developing his skills as both a filmmaker and an artist throughout his life, Sit has some advice for those considering the same path as him.

“Don’t force the artistic value inside of yourself to show up immediately,” said Sit. “Don’t be afraid that what you’re getting out of it isn’t worth it. If you force it, your art will be a mess, it’ll be rushed and it won’t be something you’ll be proud of.”