Peter Mays grew up in Los Angeles and attended UCLA where he majored in painting and minored in mathematics. He made his first experimental film while in graduate school, for which he constructed a printer and developing tank. Pat O'Neill was on a similar course in the design division. After graduation with an MA in Art in 1963 he ran a film society sponsored by the art department for several years, showing classic and underground films.
Mays made several experimental shorts in 16mm in the middle 60's. This was a very exciting period for the avant-garde film. Inspired by the emerging counter-culture, Mays shot a feature film in 1967. In 1968 he was a founding member of the light show "Single Wing Turqouise Bird." In 1975 the feature, "Sister Midnight," premiered at the Fox Venice Theater.
Mays re-invented himself in the early 80s. Seeking a compelling subject which might make money, he began portraying large chapters of history through computer animation of geography. Today he has four "experimental" educational films with Discovery Education. He made several long avant-garde films, which now had a strong emphasis on the track and on meaning.
In 2001 he had a retrospective at the Anthology Film Archives. In 2005 "Death of the Gorilla" was in the catalogue of the Pompidou exhibition "Los Angeles: 1955-1985." His recent DV and HD films explore ancient cultures to express spiritual meanings.