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Image of a tow truck in a winter strom from Highway Thru Hell

Highway Thru Hell editor speaks on working in the industry

An unexpected friendship that was forged during Kevin Mills’ time studying at NAIT’s Radio and Television program led him around the world, on the road, and back again to his editing suite. In an interview, Mills discusses his journey to becoming the finishing editor of the Canadian hit series show, Highway Thru Hell, and shares some insight into working in the industry.

“I was in the right place, at the right time and thus my career started,” said Mills. 

After a NAIT alumni advised Mills to intern at a small station in Kamloops, he took the advice seriously and applied. Mills credits this role as a news reporter for much of his success. Since it was a small station, he gained experience in everything from reporting and live anchoring to shooting and editing.  

“I think very highly of trying things out in small markets. Back when I began, you could literally try everything. Invariably, as someone new to [the] business, you do make mistakes and you get an opportunity to make your mistakes in front of less people,” Mills said. 

“Back in the day when we edited tape to tape, one track of video, two tracks of audio, you had to edit in order and we were doing news. Typically when I was working in the news department, you would rush down with minutes to spare with a tape in your hand, and they would slap it into the machine and run it.”

“[While at the news station], you’d shoot for most of the day, come back and you’d have 30 minutes to edit a story,” Mills said. But, as he would soon experience, “when I started working, the days got shorter. It does get better.” 

“I was fortunate enough in a small market to get to shoot and edit my own material, so in very short order, you’re not going to mess yourself up in the editing suite because you know what you need. So, I think videographers that edit end up being better videographers.” 

Highway Thru Hell with a photo of the cast below it wearing coveralls and hard hats

Mills claims working under deadlines and telling stories helped him edit the TV show Highway Thru Hell, a show that documents Jamie Davis performing heavy vehicle rescues and tows along the British Columbia Interior.

From his time as a student to his current editing role, Mills has been in the industry for over 30 years. Thus, he’s witnessed technology evolve.

“I’ve seen an incredible amount of transition in the technological end of things in the business. Even now with the first non-linear system, we were pretty happy with 9GB of storage and now that’s just chump change,” Mills said.

“They’ve done a really good job and I think the pandemic has pushed the industry in that direction a little bit, where I think people certainly on the editing end of things can be just about anywhere.”

“The day may come where we don’t even have to ship the material. The technology may exist where it resides in that central spot and we just access it real time without having to move all that media,” said Mills. 

When asked what can help students find success in this career path, Mills says working hard, anticipating what’s going to happen next and trying to position yourself in places to get the best material. When it comes to editing, “you have to build your mind movie first. There’s a lot of thought process before you dig in with your tools. You are sort of thinking all the time.” 

At the end of it though, Mills credits his work experience to the friendships he formed during college, as his story is very much intertwined with theirs.

Photos by Sean F. White for Great Pacific Media

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