For true-crime fans, I spoke with Cade Thomas about Laura, a two-part documentary series about Laura Long, a 1977 Claremore High School graduate who was murdered three months after her 18th birthday. In this creator conversation, Cade talk about the project, how it got started, the hardest part to film, and more.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role with Laura.
I guess you could call me an up-and-coming Tulsa filmmaker. I grew up in Broken Arrow and graduated from Rogers State University in 2019. I’ve made several short narrative films, plays, short documentaries, and a feature film. “Laura” was my first documentary series.
I produced and edited “Laura.” The series was also co-produced by Maegen Swenson and Ian Marcum, both of whom I went to RSU with.
What’s your synopsis for the documentary?
It is a two-part documentary series that tells the story of Laura Long, a 1977 Claremore High School graduate who was murdered three months after her 18th birthday. The series is told from four people’s point-of-view: Laura’s mother, the police officer who took the initial missing person report, a local newspaper reporter who covered the story, and the investigator who reopened Laura’s case decades later.
How and why did you become interested in telling Laura’s story?
The project began as an idea in a Documentary Production course at RSU. I wanted to tell a story that never got the attention it deserved. When I found out about Laura’s case, I was shocked that I had never heard about it and that there wasn’t a lot of public information on it. I knew from the beginning that if I wasn’t going to tell her story, there was a good chance this case would be forgotten. As I dug deeper into Laura’s story, I realized I couldn’t let that happen.
Why do you think people should watch it?
People should watch “Laura” to learn the full story of this young person’s murder. She never got to live a full life. I hope she will be able to live on through this documentary series.
What was the hardest part for you to film in this documentary?
The interview with Laura’s mother was definitely the hardest part. It was heartbreaking. The whole story is intangible until you see the impact in her mother’s eyes. Having to conduct an interview with someone who has experienced over four decades of emotional trauma is something that nothing in life has prepared you for.
Any behind-the-scenes stories you wish to share or things you learned from making this project?
This is a project that changes you. It puts a lot of things in perspective. I am so very proud of the final piece and I’m glad the world finally gets to see it.
For those interested in other documentaries you’ve made, what do you recommend they check out?
A few years back, I made a short documentary about the history of Tulsa’s underground tunnels titled “Tulsa Underground.” It has over 200,000 views on YouTube right now. It’s an interesting video if you like local history or just want want to learn something cool about Tulsa. I also have a short documentary about the growth of competitive video gaming titled “The Rise of eSports.” I got 1st Place in the Documentary category from the Oklahoma Broadcasting Association for that video. It’s one of my best-edited videos and it is even fascinating to those who know nothing about the subject.
Anything else you want to say or let people know?
I wrote and directed a feature film shot in Tulsa titled “RIBBON.” It was an official selection at the Kansas City Underground Film Festival and CrashLanded Film Festival. Later this year, it will screen at Bare Bones in Muskogee.