Peter Mays

1939 Artist

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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. He made several experimental shorts in 16mm in the middle 60s. This was a very exciting period for the avant-garde film. Inspired by the emerging counter-culture, Mays shot a feature film in 1967. For several years he taught photography at Mt. St. Mary's, edited films in the industry, collaborated in a light show, and slowly completed his epic film SISTER MIDNIGHT. In 1975 SISTER MIDNIGHT premiered at the Fox Venice, but Mays could not find a distributor. He promoted and opened new films at the Fox, and with the punk movement in brief ascendancy and in association with Ed Pressman and the Doors, he tried to buy North American rights to 'The Great Rock and Roll Swindle' with the Sex Pistols, however the deal fell through. Mays reinvented himself in the early 80s. Seeking a compelling subject, 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 his film DEATH OF THE GORILLA was included in the catalogue of the Pompidous exhibition 'Los Angeles: 1955-1985.' His recent short DV films explore ancient cultures to express spiritual/political meanings.