I listened to a recent /Film podcast interview with Jason Reitman. Around the 2:08 mark, he said that the one thing his father taught him was that "location" isn't story.
In essence, he was using the term "location" to talk about the surface meaning, but story is really what the film is about.
ex. The location for "Thank You for Smoking" is cigarette lobbying, but the story is really about personal choice.
ex. The location for "Juno" is teen pregnancy, but the story is really the moment these characters must decide to grow up.
I see writers who don't understand this difference. They insist that the surface meaning = story. They argue it's obvious what they story is about. Yet, when I ask, it takes them two paragraphs to answer. I think I shook one writer when I said would probably pass on his script b/c the story was all about "location" & there was no point to the film.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Story is usually is very simple and understandable, even if the "location" is complex.