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Two Conroe friends turned the story of Nickelodeon into a documentary

Calling all ’80s and ’90s kids.

"The Orange Years," is a documentary film that chronicles the rise of nickelodeon, the first cable channel for children. It was written and directed by two local men, Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney, who shared the story behind this unique project.
"The Orange Years," is a documentary film that chronicles the rise of nickelodeon, the first cable channel for children. It was written and directed by two local men, Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney, who shared the story behind this unique project.

HOUSTON – “The Orange Years,” is a documentary film that chronicles the rise of Nickelodeon, the first cable channel for children.

It was written and directed by two local men, Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney, who shared the story behind this unique project.

Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Conroe (Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney)

The duo met in 1991 at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Conroe and would watch Nickelodeon together after school.

“Nickelodeon is something that really shaped our childhood, it brought us together and we knew that documentary filmmaking, probably, was the more affordable way to get that stepping stone (moviemaking). So, we did a lot of brainstorming and talked about something we were really passionate about but also that an audience would like,” said Sweeney, who has a background in journalism and writing.

The lifelong friends soon discovered that the network shaped the lives of a whole generation of kids and that it would make for a great film.

“We really wanted to showcase the work of the absolute visionary, Geraldine Laybourne. She was a teacher and she just approached kid’s programming from a totally different mindset than anybody before her or even after her,” said Barber about the former president of the company who helped launch the network and turned into an international phenomenon.

Geraldine Laybourne (The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story)

“She empowered a lot of female creatives to do their thing,” said Sweeney.

“The Orange Years” is filled with interviews with actors, writers, and creators from all your favorite Nickelodeon shows from the ’80s and ’90s.

Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney with Kenan Thompson from Nickelodeon's "All That" (Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney)

“I think learning the stories behind the stories that you fell in love with as a child would be a welcome surprise to many,” said Sweeney about their debut film.

“34 years later, we still love these shows,” said Barber, who is an editor and has a video production business with his wife in the Houston area.

Poster for "The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story" ("The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story")

The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story,” is streaming now on Hulu. You can also rent it on iTunes and Amazon.

To see Barber and Sweeney’s complete interview, watch the video above.

You can see the trailer in the link below.

Top Photo Courtesy of DOC NYC


About the Author:

Beatriz is a producer for Houston life. She’s a dog mom who enjoys traveling and eating her way through new cities and cultures.