The Global Search for Education: Mark Leschinsky’s Journey Through Individuality in Fitting In

C. M. Rubin
3 min readMay 8, 2024

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This month, audiences can screen Fitting In on the Planet Classroom Network. The film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.

In Fitting In by Mark Leschinsky, a poignant comparison unfolds between unique shoes and personalities, symbolized by a gold high-heeled shoe.

As societal pressures loom, the narrative champions individuality over conformity, urging viewers to embrace their uniqueness rather than striving to fit in.

The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Mark Leschinsky.

Mark, what inspired you to explore the theme of individuality versus conformity in Fitting In? Who do you see as your primary audience?

I was inspired to explore the theme of individuality versus conformity in Fitting In because of my observations of how people — especially young individuals — struggle to fit into societal norms and expectations, often at the cost of their own uniqueness and identity. Witnessing friends and peers navigate these challenges sparked a desire in me to highlight the importance of embracing one’s true self.

My primary audience for this film is young adults and teenagers who are often at a crossroads in life, trying to understand who they are while facing societal pressures. I aim to resonate with them, offering both a reflection of their experiences and a message of empowerment to embrace their individuality.

Can you share any personal experiences that influenced the creation of your story? What did you learn during the process of creation?

Yes, observing my friends’ experiences significantly influenced the creation of Fitting In. I saw many of them trying to adapt or change themselves to fit into what they believed society expected of them, often feeling lost or uncomfortable in their own skin. This struggle with identity and acceptance was a recurring theme in their lives, which led me to delve deeper into the theme of individuality versus conformity.

During the process of creation, I learned a lot about empathy and the power of storytelling. Crafting this narrative made me more attuned to the internal battles people face in their quest for acceptance and the courage it takes to remain true to oneself. It reinforced my belief in the importance of self-expression and the value of individual differences, shaping the message I wanted to convey through my film.

How did you approach incorporating symbolism, particularly the use of shoes, to convey your message so effectively?

I approached the incorporation of symbolism, especially through shoes, with the intent to create a visual and intuitive connection to the film’s message. The different colored stockings represent the diversity of people, and each shoe symbolizes our unique personalities, creating a visual metaphor for individuality. The act of painting with a foot on a canvas at the film’s beginning and end signifies the struggle and awkwardness often felt when trying to conform to societal expectations, emphasizing the discomfort and impracticality of forsaking one’s true self.

The “golden” shoe serves as a symbol of societal ideals and the allure of conformity, appearing desirable from afar but ultimately ill-fitting and uncomfortable when pursued at the expense of one’s authenticity. By highlighting the journey of realizing that the societal shoe does not fit and advocating for the embracement of one’s true self, I aimed to convey that individuality is not only valuable but important.

What do you hope audiences take away from Fitting In, especially in today’s society where fitting in can feel so pervasive?

I hope audiences take away from Fitting In the message that embracing one’s individuality is more fulfilling than conforming to societal expectations. Especially in today’s society — where the pressure to fit in can feel overwhelming — I want to affirm the importance of being true to oneself.

Thank you Mark!

C.M. Rubin with Mark Leschinsky

Don’t miss Fitting In, now streaming on the Planet Classroom Network, curated by KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.

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