Get Noticed! Dark Elf Films Founder Valensky Sylvain Shares 4 Key Steps to Building Buzz for Your Business

Having trouble getting noticed? Need more views and publicity?

Check your buzz.

In today’s tough economy, it’s more important than ever to stand out, and the only way to do that is to stir the pot.

Sound daunting? No worries. Actor-turned-local entertainment favorite Valensky Sylvain schooled the Geek on how to make it happen.


Sylvain is the founder of Orlando-based indie production company Dark Elf Films, and hails from Brooklyn (like James Hunter – whom he now works with on a regular basis), and has been a theater actor since age five.

His experience has taken him through New York, Florida, England, and even South Africa.

Anytime I’m acting or creating, I’m   having a blast.
- Valensky Sylvain

His repertoire even includes three years with The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, FL; and he’s done plays during the local Fringe Festival.

Want some more? He also studied musical theater at University of Central Florida and Florida State University, even doing a brief stint at Valencia Community College. “Anytime I’m acting or creating, I’m having a blast,” he said.

Good brain to pick, yes?

Meet Dark Elf Films

The company’s iconic name alone is proof of Sylvain’s fellow geekiness: it was inspired by his favorite character in the sci-fi fantasy series Forgotten Realms, who happens to be a dark elf.

Dark Elf Films began as Crossroads Productions Studios, a client-based videography company (weddings, etc.), but broke off into the local indie film company it is today from a simple conclusion Sylvain found years ago:

There’s a difference between producing for clients and producing narratives. [Cassi Willard Success Secret #3]

Sylvain’s brother Sam and good friend Jeremy Wood came on board when the company officially became an LLC. They then began a collaborative relationship with freelance writer Frank Tobin of CinematicHaiku (co-created by Tobin and Sylvain), and they got right to business catching everyone’s eye.

Variety is the spice of life.  Dark Elf Films doesn’t limit itself to short or feature films. The guys produce music videos, commercials, promos for game shops and game releases, and currently have four web series in the works.

Sylvain plans to premiere their "GameStore" web series at MegaCon (Orlando’s largest annual comics convention) this year.

Build Your Company's Buzz in 4 Steps

Here are Sylvain’s proven methods of success.

1)    Writing.  “Having a good project starts with the writing,” Sylvain explains. Many of the DEF shorts were written by Frank Tobin, and two have already made their mark.

“Bond”, a short about domestic violence, received great reviews at the Orlando Film Festival in 2011.

 Their commercial for local client company Groundflights garnered the client the B.I.G. (Business Innovation and Growth) Award in 2011.

Great buzz tool.

2)    Have an awesome team.  Group cohesion is always important on any project, and Sylvain’s team all share his enthusiasm for their craft.

He even added that the Company’s above-the-line staff share a common faith in God and pray for each project.

3)    Have a marketing plan.  [Sound familiar?] Dark Elf Films wasted no time here.

The first step: establish an iconic brand.

When you watch all of the videos on the website, you can even see the progression:
·      text (initial look), to
·      stylized font, to
·      an image of a female toting two guns (credited to Lindsi Jeter), to
·      the current edgy logo and trademark colors (designed by Full Sail grad Uriah Peterson).

Next and highly important: the website.  Sylvain connected with Mario Giancini, a good friend from his college days, to design the gorgeous company website, valued at about three thousand dollars.

Yes, newbie entrepreneurs. You have to spend money to make money. That amount may sound like a lot, but when you see the website, you’ll understand.

“A good web presence is integral…It’s immensely important to have a good site,” Sylvain confirmed. “If yours is low-quality, [people] are going to get turned off from that because your site is a reflection of you.”

Next, the guys made their work accessible everywhere.
·      Facebook Fan Page (978 fans)
·      Twitter (195 followers)
·      YouTube (5,460 views and counting)
·      Vimeo network (150 likes; 463 contacts)
·      You can +1 any of their material
·      Their work is also available on their company blog

Sylvain also utilizes ProductionHub to broadcast his work and to look for work himself.

4)    Network.  There’s that pesky word again. It’s a very necessary step, though.

Sylvain says he can “network in my sleep” – evident in the nearly 5,000 people he has in his personal network.

If you’re shy like me, just think of it in even simpler terms: move your legs to approach someone and open your mouth to speak.

Networking not only increases visibility for your business, it also leads to collaborative partnerships.  Dark Elf Films includes a “Partnerships” page on their site boasting the logos of the indie companies they work with on a frequent basis, including make-up artists, other indie production companies, etc.

The Unspoken Buzz Rule: Show Your Best

Sylvain demonstrates but didn’t mention it in his tips above: have a marketable flagship concept or product to flaunt on your site and when you network with others.

Give them something to taste.

Dark Elf Films expertly whets appetites with its trailer for upcoming web series “Technopolis”.

The trailer’s Reservoir Dogs flair is immediately recognizable, which attracts action fans and fans of that film; and its edgy editing leaves viewers hungry to watch the series. 

Have a high concept product to show off that represents the overall quality and purpose of your company. People like what I call quality brevity – the best you’ve got in the least amount of time.

Wrapping Up

Sylvain’s four tips for getting noticed are foundational – you can’t exclude or skip any of them. The same effort you used to develop the business is required to get it noticed among the din of other businesses seeking attention.

Get good writers (yes, non-movie companies need writers too – copywriters and copy editors will provide the quality content your target market needs to read).

Have a great and cohesive team to get the highest quality work in a streamlined fashion.

Have a solid marketing plan so you can be seen (including the social networks).

Network with like-minded professionals and establish collaborative partnerships. They’ll broadcast your work when you help them, and you can broadcast theirs when they help you.

And don’t forget that high concept. Give them a phenomenal sample that best represents your company.

Trust me, they’ll start talking about it – both in person and online.

And You?

Have you used any or all of these for your own business? What were the results? What other tips would you add to the list? Comment and share with the buttons below.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Loved the advice...I would like to add another useful tip would be to overcome and get beyond your fears by addressing them and strategizing to definately get beyond that point. One thing I hate to hear someone say is that it is impossible for them to change something that is hindering them from succeeding in the industry...My best advice would be to continue to do whatever it is that you absolutely hate doing...even if it is to a point you must force yourself to do it...until it becomes second nature and before you know it it is something that no longer is considered a tribulation. Always remember that you can not change something if you do not attempt to address those things.

    Maria Young

    1. Great point, Maria! Thanks so much for adding that.

      It's very true - without pushing through those walls, there's no progress, and this industry's pretty good about putting those walls up.

      Have you dealt with that fear or frustration personally? What do you do in the industry?

  2. I am an artist, model, writer,actor, photographer and recently ventured out in film I wear many hats..and indeed I have dealt with that my younger years I was very shy and easily intimidated...but because of my love and passion to perform I had to find ways to break through that and made a definate attempt to combat my fears. It was through researching different strategies, reading self help books, and really forcing myself to get out on that forefront that I was able to manage and control those anxieties. Yes there were many times I mentally had to push myself out on that stage...and yes it was a battle...but I had already decided that I indeed would win this war...and because I was determined and serious about my craft and reaching my fullest and greatest potential...I did!!! Even to this day...there are times that I feel those nerves beginning to creep up...but I draw from a source that is confident and from the divine knowledge that this is what I was meant to do...I persevere and with all my might I push through.

    One of the greatest advice given to me by my acting teacher Shauna Bartel of CAST that there will be times that you will be as a duck...paddling like crazy with all of your might to stay a float...and that is quite alright...just as long as you stay a float and you are able to only show that duck above water, confident and floating effortlessly, no matter what is going on inside or beneath the surface... so my mission is always to be that duck above water. Another suggestion is to put on a good enough act...if you can act confident, outgoing and full of spirit in life...and make it believable..even if you aren't completely...then you will find that others will begin to believe you!!! LOL! That's one great thing about being an actor...being able to sell it and make people believe it! LOL! :)

    Maria Young

    1. That certainly is a lot of hats, Maria. Much respect to you for successfully juggling them all.

      Thanks for the advice from Ms. Bartel - the duck analogy is so true. People smell desperation from a mile away and are instantly repelled by it, so it's very important to exude that confidence, no matter what's going on inside.

      Keep soldiering on!

    2. Thank you so much! Wishing you success and prosperity in all that you do...and indeed I will keep keepin' is a mission that has no end...a growth process that continues to grow...and a destiny that must be fulfilled!

      Much love,

      Maria Young

  3. In order for your band to get more promotion through moreover music magazines or online music blogs, there are three imperative keys you need to memorize. Then hire a publicist that already knows how to write releases and previously has acquaintances with the media.


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