RVC Graduates Filmmakers And Prepares For Program Expansion

On Saturday, Feb. 4, 15 students will celebrate the completion of the Illinois Film Office (IFO) Film/TV Workforce Training Program at Rock Valley College. This specialized training program was a joint effort between RVC, the IFO, and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. The free, 80-hour, intensive training course prepares individuals for entry-level work in the motion picture industry. All program completers are credentialed and added to a talent pool with the IFO. 

The four-week training program was so successful that RVC’s Mass Communication program chair, Jerry LaBuy, is preparing to launch another round of training.

According to Jerry, “With new productions coming to IL, and production facilities like City Stage Studios being created in our area, producers need to know who is ready to go and work. This program does that, and our grads are already getting noticed and offers for those jobs. We love to see it.”

The pilot program launched in January to train individuals to work on TV or film sets in Illinois, specifically outside the city of Chicago. Illinois is losing opportunities to bring film production to areas outside the city due to a lack of skilled production talent. The IFO has teamed up with RVC to increase the number of skilled labor to address a workforce shortage outside of Chicago.

“Our first round of students were eager to learn about the industry and understand how to get the entry-level jobs we have on film and TV sets here in Illinois. Our class instructors are industry veterans and worked really well with some terrific students in this first class ever like this offered in Northern Illinois,” said RVC program chair Jerry LaBuy.

The course is now accepting applications, and seating is limited to 15. This program is intended to particularly increase the participation of women, gender non-conforming, LGBTQ+, and people of color in the creative workforce. Participants must be 18 years or older and must have a high school diploma or GED. No prior experience in film and TV is required.  

Students will learn: 

  • An introduction to the film industry, 
  • How to be a production assistant, 
  • And will get assistance with career coaching and creating their resume.  

The program will take place over four weeks, beginning on March 21, 2023. Classes will be held from 6 – 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and include a special field trip on Saturday, March 25. Program completers will be recognized in a ceremony on Saturday, April 15.  

“Our new graduates are ready to get involved in the film and TV productions happening in Rockford and beyond. The knowledge and skills learned will help them as they take those first steps in the industry. We are excited for another cohort of students to join them,” said Jerry.

The course is made possible through funding from the Illinois Film Office through the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.  

Individuals interested in the program should complete the inquiry form here

Contact program manager and instructor Jerry LaBuy at j.labuy@rockvalleycollege.edu or call (815) 921-3360. 


About the Instructors  

Jerry LaBuy, Program Manager and Instructor 

Jerry LaBuy has worked in radio, journalism, television, and film production for over 25 years. During his career he has worked with filmmakers such as Lawrence Turman ("The Thing" "American History X"), Elizabeth Allen ("Ramona and Beezus" "Purple Hearts"), and Bing Liu ("Minding the Gap" "All These Sons"). 

Mr. LaBuy's extensive background includes award-winning work in news, advertising, documentary, and narrative production as well as sound design. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago (B.A.) and DePaul University (M.F.A.). Prior to his production career he was on staff with the University of Southern California’s School of the Cinematic Arts. He is currently the chair of the Mass Communication program at Rock Valley College. 

Mr. LaBuy is also the Executive Director of the Mosaic World Film Festival, an event held every September in Rockford, IL. In addition to teaching, he runs his own film production company, The Caledonia Night Sky Co., which focuses primarily on commercial production and narrative filmmaking. 


Thomas Ciciura, Instructor 

Thomas Ciciura is an Emmy award winning Illinois based film professional since 1991 and has credits on films such as “Ali”, “War of the Worlds”, “Contagion”, “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Fantasia 2000” & “Into the Blue”; TV shows “Chicago Fire”, “Chicago PD”, “Empire”, “Sirens” and “Early Edition” plus hundreds of commercials for brands like Coca Cola, Adidas, Nintendo & Gatorade. He is a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild and the IATSE Local 476 Studio Mechanics, and has extensive training and several certificates including Special Effects and Stunt Safety and all of the Contract Services Safety Pass training required to be listed on the Hollywood Experience Roster. Mr. Ciciura has taught film studies at Huntington University and several cinematography and lighting workshops to many age levels including jr. high, high school and college and has also taught Radio/TV/Video/Film and TV writing at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute.