Vera Herbert penned the script for Don't Make Me Go in 2012, writing about a single father and his teenage daughter on a road trip together, confronting life, death, and everything in between. The screenplay made that year's The Black List of "most liked" unproduced scripts. Then it took 10 years to finally get made.
In the meantime, Herbert became a writer and co-executive producer of NBC's This Is Us, a similarly tear-jerking and life-affirming family drama that ran for six seasons from 2016 to 2022, and for which Herbert earned four Emmy nominations (for Outstanding Drama Series) and won a WGA Award for the season 1 episode, "The Trip."
"This script just took a long time to find its sea legs," Herbert says of Don't Make Me Go. "But, when This is Us came around and I read the pilot, I could tell it was the perfect match for me, because it felt so much like it was the same sensibility as the kind of stuff I already wanted to write."
Both Don't Make Me Go and This Is Us also are indicative of the movies Herbert loves to watch. Below, she shares with A.frame five of her favorite films, as well as the writing lessons that she's taken from them.
Directed by: George Cukor | Written by: Donald Ogden Stewart
The Philadelphia Story is my absolute favorite movie. The first time I watched it, I was in high school and probably watched it with my dad, who watched a lot of movies. He had Netflix before it was cool. We used to get the discs at our house, and then, when I started becoming interested in film, I would get him to add things to the queue and we would watch them together. But The Philadelphia Story has become my favorite movie. It's become a weird tradition that I watch it every single year on my birthday and drink champagne with it.
I'm drawn to movies that are about fun characters and, to me, that is the ultimate collection of this screwball comedy cast of characters having this absurd weekend that is so charming and fun to watch. And I love movies of that era, because of the strong women characters that are really interesting, and all the fast-paced dialogue, which I love so much. Anything that has great dialogue, I'm always drawn in by it. So, that's one that is on my constant rewatch list.
Directed by: Nora Ephron | Written by: Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron
I remember seeing You've Got Mail in theaters when I was young and falling in love with it. It has become another classic comfort movie that I watch frequently. It's a movie that brings me joy because I love watching the characters on that journey, even knowing what's going to happen. I feel like every time I discover new moments within it and new specifics of how the movie is crafted. It's such a classic setup — two characters who hate each other but are falling in love and don't know — but that movie does it in such a special way. Everything about it is peak '90s rom-com. We don't have movies that are exactly that anymore, and so it has a nostalgia to it that's really special.
Directed by: Chris Columbus | Written by: John Hughes
My all-time childhood favorite. I love Christmas and I love Christmas movies. And that's a movie that has had a big impact on my life. I watch it every Christmas. Last year, my husband and I dressed up as characters from it for Halloween. I was Kate [played by Catherine O'Hara] and he was John Candy's character, Gus Polinski. And we rented a U-Haul truck and parked it in our driveway.
And I think that movie is so smart in the characters. Like, Kevin being this little kid who is so smart and treated like an adult. I like any movie that has kid actors but lets them be fully realized, even in their foibles and their silliness, that they have a strong point of view on life, and strong goals and what they want to do. That's one, for me, that I will always go back to. And now that I have an outfit that goes with it, I could, at any moment, turn into Kate when I feel like it.
Directed by: Robert Wise | Written by: Ernest Lehman
The Sound of Music is a movie I grew up watching a ton, and I knew all the songs from the movie. And it is, obviously, a huge classic to everyone. But I love anything that has romance in it, and that story of this forbidden romance that then happens among this much greater story of the whole family and the much greater story of Nazis and all this stuff, it's such a great, specific story in such a grand context. As a kid, it was just people singing and people wearing curtains as clothes, and I don't think I really understood the Nazi part of the story at all. Then later, realizing this is based on a real family that really went through some of this and became the von Trapp Family Singers and all that stuff. What a great, grand story about an awful time in history but this family that made it through.
Directed by: Roger Michell | Written by: Richard Curtis
Notting Hill is of that '90s era of romantic comedies where you're like, 'A small-town bookshop owner in this little part of London and a fantastic movie star? Great. I want to see those two people get together.' And really any Richard Curtis movie could be on my list. What I love about his writing is how much he builds out the world and all the side characters. In that movie, Spike [played by Rhys Ifans], the roommate, is just a delight to watch, and I feel like I would watch an entire movie about him. I watch that and, every time, find new things to laugh at because there's so much going on; it's such a rich tapestry that has been woven of this whole world. While also rooting for those two characters to get together and have that fantasy romance — that seems unrealistic — but you totally buy in this movie. That's another one that I go back to a lot.